By Julie Moore
Featured art: Flowers by L. Prang and Co
her neighbor always says, explaining why,
every year, he plants & hangs
geraniums, begonias, impatiens, petunias,
even blue lobelia, amid his blooming bulbs.
She wants that sentiment to infect her, too,
the summer her husband leaves.
So on the hottest day Ohio can muster, she faces
the roses her husband sank in soil ten years before.
On the side of the house, they grow weed-loud—
even cantankerous saplings push through
the bushes, silencing all the kind words in their red mouths.
Everything has to go.
As she digs, thorns & muscular weeds
thick with prickles recite
her husband’s remarks on her skin,
scratching, clawing, tearing:
I can’t commit to you 100%, only 75%.
Shovel meets hard earth again & again.
Gasping for air, feeling her back spasm in protest,
she clings to the wood handle. You’re too hardline.
You want too much. She lets the sun scold her,
lets the heavy air weigh on her shoulders,
lets all of it, the whole fucking force
of his question—What do you mean I ‘disregard’ you?—
fuel her resistance, her freedom to say,
No, you & your furious mess
will not stand, not here, not any longer.
In their place, she leaves behind
what perennial peace she can—
pink Asiatic lilies, purple coneflowers,
& threadleaf coreopsis shining
their favor without ridicule or question.
A Best of the Net and six-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Julie L. Moore is the author of four poetry collections, including, most recently, Full Worm Moon, which won a 2018 Woodrow Hall Top Shelf Award and received honorable mention for the Conference on Christianity and Literature’s 2018 Book of the Year Award. Her poetry has appeared in African American Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Image, New Ohio Review, Poetry Daily, Prairie Schooner, and Verse Daily.