suspicions of misplaced virility,
my interpretations are self-inflicted.
When the mind is absent
and an old crutch won't do the job
one looks in Manzanita bush
for the proper angled support,
but avoids summer poison oak.
I have never tasted the drupe
of this evergreen you lean upon,
nor have I felt the itch of poison.
Mother and I pull vines
with gentle tugs for root extraction
without glove or long sleeve.
We laugh at the ivy’s vain attempt
at self protection.
We are immune.
It runs in the blood of the Schultzes
along with a dimpled chin
and knobby knees.
In the oil can with broken crutches, newsprint
and dry milk boxes, we burn the vines with five leaves.
On the puffs of smoke, we read imaginary signals
sent to lovers lost, late, or never arrived.
They all say the same thing.
Your interpretations are self-inflicted.