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I have waited too long to prune and
my roses are tangled and straggly.
They resist my efforts to tame them now.
I should have done this long ago,
should have fed them better, trimmed more often,
made more effort to coax them into graceful forms.
The canes sprawl every which way. They lean
into each other, hooked together,
unwilling to stand alone.
Too leggy, their blossoms appear only at the top,
leaving the middle a thicket of thorns
that wound me as I try—too late—
to shape these green branches.


Little beasts,
my children,
sweet monsters:

How could I be free,
captured by your shrieks?
Would you think I desert you
when I put you to sleep?

What shall I do
to halt your hungry cries
when you have sucked
these poor breasts dry?

You’d grow eager to explore.
Impatiently, you’d try to slip
away, you’d struggle terribly,
alive and warm in my fierce grip.

O children, unborn and unnamed –
you were my own, but alien, flesh.
Wrapt in a raw, pink-pearl egg,
you undid me, demanding this:

my self for yours,
the sacrificial gift.

Anara Guard is a writer and poet who has lived in the Midwest, New England, and northern California. She received the John Crowe Ransom Poetry Prize from Kenyon College. Her collection of short stories, Remedies for Hunger, was selected by the Chicago Book Review for its Best Books of 2015 list.  Anara has attended the Bread Loaf Writers Workshop and the Squaw Valley Community of Writers in fiction. She has recently had poems included in Convergences and Late Peaches: An Anthology of Sacramento Poets, as well as a nonfiction piece in Under the Gum Tree. She is currently completing a novel, set in Chicago in 1970.