It’s a bad rap, his ex-con image: rough-edged leaves and desire to lay low to the ground, but his references vouch for his many talents. They say he’ll work anywhere outdoors, especially since his roots run deep, his genealogy going back before the Mayflower. And speaking of family, his cousins the sunflowers and daisies cultivated his social skills like mastering Buzz speak —popular with the bees— to advertise his nectar and pollen for their honey. Please note one of his references is the Queen. (Butterflies are admirers, too.) You’ll also see he earned “companion plant” status because his taproot draws nutrients to shallow-rooted, and he releases ethylene gas to aid others’ ripening fruit. Not to limit his benefits to insects and fellow plants, he offers his young leaves as people’s food, especially in salads, and aids human health through traditional salves, teas, and tinctures. It takes a lot to raise his dander. For defense, he retracts shuttering bracts to shield himself from nightly dew or damaging storms. Yet finally tiring, he trades his golden crown for white tufts. Unfazed, he switches into carefree mode, the wind through his hair, and shares all he knows. Laura Gunnells Miller Laura Gunnells Miller, who lives in southeast Tennessee, loves to explore backroads and create travel photography books. Her poetry is published or forthcoming in American Diversity Report, Tennessee Voices Anthology, and a Chattanooga Writers’ Guild Anthology.