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They are not native,
the Queen Ann’s Lace, chicory
and birdsfoot trefoil
that add so much to the country drive,
as they wave back and forth
from the shoulder of the road.

Their success, I have read,
is measured in how well they adapt
to harsh conditions,
how they thrive
in adverse circumstances.

When my parents invaded
from overseas,
spilling like bilge, like zebra muscles,
some would say,
from the hold of a boat,
they lived in a driving shed
attached to a barn.
The farmer, and the farm work,
were brutal. My parents did better
than survive.

The nature-guide further states
that non-native trees
may add a green splash to the landscape,
but do not attract insects,
which are adapted to native trees,
and therefore do not interest
or attract birds.

I stand here, a non-native son,
though born on this soil,
and walk my walk,
banging through the woods
cowbell around my neck
head in a cloud of bugs,
birds nesting in my beard,
searching for a place that will call me home.

“Invasive Species” first appeared in John Terpstra’s collection Call Me Home published by Gaspereau Press, Kentville, Nova Scotia, 2021

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

John Terpstra

John Terpstra has published ten slim volumes of poetry, the most recent being Call Me Home (Gaspereau Press, 2021), as well as five works of creative non-fiction, including The Boys, or, Waiting for the Electrician’s Daughter, and two books of prayers, Wild Hope and In the Company of All (St. Thomas Poetry Series). One of his poems, called "Giants," is emblazoned on a plaque that stands on the edge of the Niagara Escarpment overlooking downtown Hamilton, Ontario, where he lives and works as a cabinetmaker.