Cottonwood Seeds

Cotton flower

A million of them weigh less than three pounds.
No wonder they lift away on the wind,
miniature paratroopers buoyed by filaments
finer than a spider’s web and carried
for miles in search of water.
The actual seed is barely visible
to the naked eye, yet each one contains
complete instructions for assembling
a tree that may reach a hundred feet
into the blue air, growing fast
though only lasting so long.
Chances are, if you planted one as a child
you have already outlived it.
But the leaves! The leaves are shining
green diamonds that shimmer in the slightest
breeze, their long stems giving them
unusual freedom of movement for prisoners.
Their rustling reminds me of a harem chamber,
the sound of silks on silks, flesh on flesh…
and now my mind is wandering
farther than any seed borne on the wind.
This image too is somehow latent
and lurking in the cottonwood seed,
worlds sleeping within worlds asleep,
tiny travelers suddenly bursting forth
by the billions to make it snow in June, in us.

Poem by Kurt Luchs

the original publication of Cottonwood Seeds (Clover).

Kurt Luchs ( has poems published or forthcoming in Plume Poetry Journal, The American Journal of Poetry, and The Bitter Oleander, among others. He won the 2019 Atlanta Review International Poetry Contest. He has written humor for the New Yorker, the Onion and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, as well as writing comedy for television and radio. His books include a humor collection, It’s Funny Until Someone Loses an Eye (Then It’s Really Funny) (2017 Sagging Meniscus Press), and a poetry chapbook, One of These Things Is Not Like the Other (2019 Finishing Line Press). His first full-length poetry collection, Falling in the Direction of Up, is forthcoming from Sagging Meniscus Press.