No, I don’t want a rhubarb muffin
A poem about why I hate rhubarb
In the 80s
Velvet leaf did a star turn
In an ad for some kind of herbicide
Hairy, violet-black vines
Twisting and writhing
Inching over window sills
Knocking over lamps
A tagline told you what to kill it with
But I can’t remember it now.
Then, in the backyard:
My mom, holding an armload of rhubarb
I was on the back step, smiling.
There was so much of it!
Lady, our golden lab-retriever
Nibbled on a leaf
Mom said, “Do you want to get sick?”
A few nights later,
Rhubarb did a star turn
In my dream, playing the role
Of the malevolent plant
It thrust through the floor
Of my grandparents’ house and
Hoisted it so high on red stalk stilts.
From then on,
I crossed the street to avoid
The veiny, alligator-green leaves
That nod savagely in the breeze
Some houses had hedgerows of it
In their yards, and I walked fast
The worst was when they let it go to seed
Clusters of white flowers promising
More rhubarb. I’m pro-abortion.
I washed the car with dad
He said, “Turn on the hose.”
The hose was by the rhubarb patch
I couldn’t go near.
“How old are you? Nine?”
He crept toward the rhubarb patch
His grin sent me racing
Into the house, up the stairs, into the closet
Where I slammed the door.
I opened the door a crack
And there he was, a demented matador
Waving a big veiny bright green leaf
Right in my face
I shut the door and waited,
Fearing he’d left it on the floor
For me to step on.
Now, I eat a muffin
What is this red, tart, damp thing?
It had better not be…
I dig my fingers in
And pick it apart
Until there’s nothing but pale crumbs
And I’ve lost my appetite.
Author’s note: I haven’t written poetry since high school, butposted a poem that mentions rhubarb and it inspired me to do something with my horticultural trauma.