By Whatever Name

As I slice Jerusalem artichokes for a stir-fry,
you tell me how this tuber,
from a sort of sunflower,
got its name.
Samuel de Champlain
in 1605 arrived on Cape Cod
and found Native Americans
cultivating it.
They called it sunroot, since the flowers
twist their necks to face the sun.
Champlain brought it back to France,
where they thought,
this tastes like artichoke.
It’s popularity spread to Italy,
where they called it girasole, “turns-to-the-sun.”
Traders brought it to England,
where girasole sounded like
Jerusalem.
So the tuber sailed home to North
America with a Mediterranean
name.

I’m thinking,
if only we could begin again…
I’d retrace this pilgrimage,
back to England,
Italy, France, then sail
to Cape Cod in 1605.
I, envoy from Europe,
am greeted by Wampanoags.
We sit down together
and eat sunroot, by whatever name.
We share our languages
and found a new Jerusalem,
in peace.

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