Stealing Ideas and Old French Language "Roots"


In the words of a poet friend of mine, *poof!*
So, I have a secret I need to spill. I rob Wikipedia, Google, and the Bible of all their good ideas. I am a thief. I admit it. This poem is a good example and an easy entrance into confession.

First, I have been trying to write all. Day. Long. Well, here and there anyway – it has been really busy at work lately and SURPRISE SURPRISE there hasn’t been time for me to fiddle with my own poetry. I know, sad story. But even though I can’t actually sit at my desk and type the poems, I usually have something I’m writing simmering in my head, or trying to latch on to an idea that could become a poem. I’m not pleased with either of the two versions of “A Voice in the Crowd at Capernaum,” but I think it’s probably a little bit because it was forced inspiration. I don’t do well when I try to tell the Holy Spirit to inspire me.

On that note, I decided to try a new activity and opened the Bible to any random section. The first verse I read began, “Can a mortal be of use to God?” (Job 22:2). I thought, “How fortunate! I didn’t land in Leviticus!” But this got me thinking about whether we can affect God – with worship, with prayer, etc. In one of my small group Bible studies, we just read about David and his fervent prayers for his infant son who God struck ill because of what David did to Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah. The discussion guide (Beth Moore! Woo!) led us to think about why we pray – if God can be swayed by prayer – and the short answer is, yes, but it is up to God if, when, and how he will answer.

So I started to think about what my prayers feel like sometimes, and for some reason, I decided that it’s like blowing the seeds off of a dandelion head. I don’t know why. It just is, okay? Which made me look up dandelions. I found this one website – on the Common Dandelion – that gave me some really good facts to build a poem on. A few of my favorites that I “stole” —

They’re so deeply toothed, they gave the plant its name in Old French: Dent-de-lion means lion’s tooth in Old French.

And, this:

Each flower head consists of hundreds of tiny ray flowers.


The flower head can change into the familiar, white, globular seed head overnight. Each seed has a tiny parachute, to spread far and wide in the wind. The thick, brittle, beige, branching taproot grows up to 10″ long. All parts of this plant exude a white milky sap when broken.

How great is, “the thick, brittle, beige, branching taproot?” Thank you, “Wildman” Steve Brill, for your uber-descriptive dandelion webpage. I could not resist, of course, the lion reference.

So that’s how this poem came to be. If I ever win a Pushcart for it, I will stand behind the podium in my living room and thank God, Google, and Wildman Steve Brill publicly for their generosity.

Published by Sarah M. Wells

Sarah M. Wells is the author of The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Gospels to Help Kids and Parents Love God and Love Others (2022), American Honey: A Field Guide to Resisting Temptation (2021), Between the Heron and the Moss (2020), The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Bible to Help Kids and Parents Engage and Love Scripture (2018), Pruning Burning Bushes (2012), and a chapbook of poems, Acquiesce, winner of the 2008 Starting Gate Award through Finishing Line Press (2009). Sarah's work has been honored with four Pushcart Prize nominations, and her essays have appeared in the notable essays list in the Best American Essays 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Sarah is the recipient of a 2018 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She resides in Ashland, Ohio with her husband and three children.

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