★ ★ ★ ★


Secret Garden

We found you
strangely scented
of coconuts and fertilizer
in an old Wellington.

Miriam planted you
there secretly,
fed you sunscreen
and crayon wrappers.

You grew in the dark rubber,
white-green shoots
searching for sunlight
bulb soft and fat.

For my daughter, when she’s old enough to understand

Since she’s only six and shouldn’t know
the way stress eats your guts
so it doesn’t matter that
you can’t afford a sandwich at lunch
because you can’t eat anyway,

She begs me to be home for bedtime.

I can’t tell her that I work
so she’ll have a bed to go to
or that adjunct pay is shitty.

I promise to kiss her good night
when I get home, knowing
she’ll have kicked off her quilt by then
and will sleep as I tuck her in.

Keri Withington is an Appalachian based poet whose work has previously appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, recently including Blue Fifth Review, Calamus Journal, and Feminine Inquiry. Her current work focuses on motherhood, politics, and biology. She is an assistant professor at Pellissippi State Community College.