A pariah to his neighbors,

Uncle Ken loved dandelions, cultivated them

in his yard in Iowa Falls, plucked the blossoms

at midday when their rays had spread fully open.

Then after his alchemy turned gold into wine,

he poured it into old bottles he had scrubbed,

then laid them lovingly on their sides in his cellar.

A friend gave him an antique key

that said “in vino veritas,” and he asked me

what it meant.   He always wanted to give me

several bottles, although I tried to decline the syrupy brew.

But he insisted, so there was no way to leave them behind.

I was going to empty them down the drain,

but Vivian, who was 84, was more practical.

“We’ll cut it with sour lemon,”

she said, and we sat on her patio

under the oak tree where the wrens had a nest

and talked about all the relatives.

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