WHEN MAMA COOKS DANDELION GREENS (A POEM)

When it’s springtime on the prairie,
And wild birds begin to sing,
And young blades of grass come poking
Through the earth, with other things,
Comes a morning mama beckons,
And as she hands me her soup pot,
Says “I bet today’s the day for
finding greens,–I’ll bet a lot!”
Fresh greens, I hanker longingly,
It’s been a long winter without,
Not counting stringbeans strung and dried.
Of that there is no doubt—there’s
Brooklime found in ditches, and
Cattails from the pond,
Can be eaten in a salad,
With chickweed, and dandelion;
Great Burdock can be eaten
In a salad or just raw,
Lamb’s Quarters, some may call a weed
But steamed it’s not at all.
Clover can be used for tea,
But in salad it’s still good,
Thistle can be nice with greens,
And the roots can be cooked and eaten.
There’s wild garlic and wild onion,
They’re the easiest to find;
You can smell them from a long way off,
Even if you’re blind–
Around the farm and fields throughout,
There’s plenty greens for taking,
But I’ve saved the best for last,
The dandelions that we savor.
To clean them, mama holds the leaves
And cuts the bottom root away;
The very inner growth is shook
And gently thrown away;
The tender stems and leaves are put
In mama’s biggest cooking pot,
Then she carries them out to the well
And washes them a lot;
She cooks up strips of bacon
In a skillet ‘til its crisp,
Then adds vinegar to the drippings,
Making sure it doesn’t drip.
Some boiled eggs will be sliced up,
And laid nice upon the greens,
The dressing is poured over and
It’s the finest thing I’ve seen.
Mama tosses the greens lightly
And puts bacon on my plate,
We think young dandelion greens
Are the best we ever ate.

–Sandra Lee Smith

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