Sphaeralcea ambigua
by Ann Johnson

I measure friends by promises kept;
so it is
I have few friends and a plethora of cohorts.
Of those cohorts,
man puzzles me the most.
He, of multiple variations,
his family, genus, species
convoluted and complex, I cannot trust;
hybrids don’t breed true.

Once Homo sapien sapien,
the wise one on two legs,
was full of comprehension.
He named me Globe Mallow
(azee’ntt’ini) a “Life Medicine.”*
Vows unspoken bound us;
there was no need for written legalize.
He and I, we found
then kept the balance.

I blossomed self-sufficient,
bisexual, drought-tolerant—
adopted skills, adapted traits,
survived in heated aridity.
He forgot how to walk,
became a different breed:
Homo sapien mechanicus—
a man power-driven, whose innate
abilities far surpassed his understanding.

*As a Navajo life medicine, the globe mallow is used as a tonic to improve appetite. treat stomach ache and to cure coughs and colds. It can be smoked as a tobacco.

I classify enemies by achieved intent;
and so it is
I have few enemies and an abundance of antagonists.
Of those antagonists,
man puzzles me the most.
He, of such disparity,
his motives, dreams, ambitions
complicated and confused, I cannot trust;
his experimentation very nearly kills us both.