Ivory Queen

I watched 

as the other asparagus shoots 

sprang up toward the sun,

just like all our lily cousins,

plucked for their grassy inclination. 

I nuzzled the earth instead

deep inside its soil,

befriending the worms

who swam around me sightless

yet they too

sensed the light above.

Chubby, with milky white spears,

I didn’t know why

the more I reached upward,

the more dirt surrounded me,

a life-long funeral, it seemed 

every day another burial,

though I never received 

any flowers.

They asked me

“Why are you so pedantic, sparrowgrass,

meddling around in the dirt like that?

Don’t you believe in 

the magic of photosynthesis?”

I didn’t know what I believed in,

and I’m not sure I know now either.

“Blanch,” 

they called me,

“thank you for the lift,”

as they climbed my rungs

to penetrate the soil’s surface

above.

“Anytime.”

I awoke one morning 

from my pale slumber 

to clammy fingers 

brushing the dirt away 

from behind my ears,

digging around my stalk,

an excavation of sorts 

an exhumation 

of the life I built underground.

Once these fingers

reached the end of my root,

I felt myself rushing upward—

Am I ready for this? I thought 

flattening my leaves 

as I felt the dirt fall away,

and felt the light pour into me

squinting as I wiggled free

from the soil.

“Da ist sie!”

I heard someone exclaim,

“There she is!” they repeated,

blowing away the excess dirt 

caked onto my stalk

as they held me 

in their hands.

As my eyes began to adjust, 

I heard the sounds

of other people huddled around 

looking at me.

“This is our Ivory Queen,”

said the voice holding me.

“We’ve been waiting 

8 weeks for her arrival

and she’s finally here!”

Ivory Queen?

I looked down

at my bloodless stalk,

my porous bones 

drinking in the warmth I thought 

was only reserved for others.

“She is white asparagus, 

our springtime delicacy,”

the voice declared,

raising me ever upward

cupped in their hands.

What if I burn? 

I mused,

But what if you don’t?

asked a voice from deep in my trunk.

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