A pariah to his neighbors,
Uncle Ken loved dandelions, cultivated them
in his yard in Iowa Falls, plucked the blossoms
at midday when their rays had spread fully open.
Then after his alchemy turned gold into wine,
he poured it into old bottles he had scrubbed,
then laid them lovingly on their sides in his cellar.
A friend gave him an antique key
that said “in vino veritas,” and he asked me
what it meant. He always wanted to give me
several bottles, although I tried to decline the syrupy brew.
But he insisted, so there was no way to leave them behind.
I was going to empty them down the drain,
but Vivian, who was 84, was more practical.
“We’ll cut it with sour lemon,”
she said, and we sat on her patio
under the oak tree where the wrens had a nest
and talked about all the relatives.