Poetry Month Day 5

Kulli black Incan corn
steeps in deep purple water.
Cheqche-Peskoruntu
kernels mottled like birds’ eggs

Chuspi Puka Llanqha
with the tint of raspberry juice,
butter and slate, is ground
into sweet, tender meal

and Karu Kau Suni,
long orange-red kernels
creased and tipped in cream
toasted and eaten warm …

Peskoruntu yellow
streaked in mist and black
like a batik shadow
of men against the sunset …

gardeners who set cobs
in these northern climbs
will pollinate by hand
and save a measure of seed

as the people who bred them
have conceived generation
after generation, passing
one step at a time

by hand from one small plot
to another, until a few
cross over the high valleys.
Some grown in the mountains

are sensitive to light
and here will only tassle
in cooling late September
when the nights outlast the days.

Prompts: 30/30 “Passing lane”
NaPoWriMo: Heirloom seeds or vegetables
The names of these kinds of maize, some of them very rare, I found at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

Photo at the top: Heirloom corn or maize from Latin America. Courtesy photo by Keith Weller, USDA

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