by Ashia Ajani (Voices Editor)


Grandma played me her garden song

In the shallow heat of spring


She beat her palms against the soil

Kissed the scrapes on my knees

Jewels of sweat lined her bosom

As she hacked up weeds


Licked her peeling lips like sugar cane

Softened her gaze to calm the flowers


There were whole continents dropping off her hands

Breathing in mint leaves and parsley

Ballads of San Juan and Mississippi, West Africa

Settling in the grass


There is nothing ill-omened about lilac

Or false-hearted about rosehips

Nothing serious about germanium

Everything has its place in a garden


She sat in the cool shade, mint leaves bowing

Her back creaking slowly

Like slaves ships on salted ocean

She’s found ways to harvest her own skin


Ripe like bananas

Quick and deliberate