Girl of Water, I Could Swallow a Garden
engulf any overgrown plot in an afternoon
with my two ungloved hands
tear every undesirable by the root—
pile their light bodies neatly in the barrow.
I remember standing in a field of men at the botanical garden
holding my shining spade. I remember
what the frat boy doing community service
said to me when I told him to plant.
The sweet potato vines winced,
waved their purple leaves from small, black pots.
There is a photograph my father captured
when visiting: me roaming
those grounds I mulched & culled & greenhoused:
long-limbed slip of me,
doe-eyed by the ponds, a girl
full of yellowing waterlilies,
a green image left on paper.
My father has stopped photographing light,
misremembers my name, disappears me.
Now there are trees in that Carolina city
I planted that are twice, three times as tall
as my sons. Now I am so far from the red
dust and fire
ants that bit my skin every day.
People say I used to go around asking for smoke,
say I used to wander through the camellia collection
following boys who carried instruments.
I say I remember riding in the truck looking for coyote
on coffee breaks with Joey, I
remember the one true line I wrote
in those years of landscape and heat:
I’m really a poet. I’m just here for the snakes.
by Natalie Solmer
from the Echotheo Review