Joyce Sutphen


I can tell you nothing
about its relatives
or the uses it had
in China.

For us, it simply grew
at the end of the garden—
a ruby-red wand
for the sugar bin.

My mother chopped it into pieces
and made pies, cakes and sauces.
She gave it in armfuls
to her friends,

Just last week, I watched her bend
and pull out a stalk with both
hands, then pass it—like a
torch—on to me.