Hesperoyucca whipplei

Photo by Sarah Lim
Photo by Sarah Lim

By Kit Courter

Hesperoyucca whipplei,
Whipple Yucca,
long bending gray-green swords extending into hemispheres.

Native people made sewing kits
by breaking off the tipsthat come away clean with a length of fibrous thread.

The seeds were crushed into meal
and baked into cakes.
Roots made a lathering soap,
The sap an astringent for wounds.

The tall, dry stalks, bound together with twine,
became shelters against strong sun, occasional rain.

The mountain slopes along the trail below Mount Wilson
are host to their spiky, half-rounded forms

sprouting from decomposing stone
broken by earthquakes, every-winter frost.

They are a Home Depot, a Walmart,
to which, today, nobody goes.

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