The Garden

by Erika Mueller

All I wanted then was to fill my arms with sharp flowers.
– Eavan Boland, “White Hawthorn in the West of Ireland”

It was sometimes light and silent
ones who filled me like poison
wood, or Christmas rose. Their
choke juice like an even tempo.

Others crept in, their thistle jaws
like live wires at my throat, my body,
and their delight of undoing me.

I even chose ones who came
with petal cheeks, watched them
take root, their bulk something
to wrap myself into, a damning
wall to crash against.

Some sprouted up out of nowhere
and were most dangerous. They spread
over me before it was time and thrive
like firewheels burning little moats.

And there were those that swayed
like sunlit poppies, their long fragile
lines like something just forgotten,
something you barely allow yourself

to know. And it is for the loss of these
last flowers, that I cannot stop the wild
planting of seeds, the rushed throwing down
of shelled hope to this turning of earth,
and past, and the mad embracing of pain.


Erika Mueller’s poems have appeared in Willow Springs, Women’s Studies Quarterly, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from the University of Oregon and an MA from Iowa State University. She is currently an Assistant Editor at Cream City Review and lives in Oregon.

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