HomeSouthern VoiceGardening Me

Gardening Me

by Michelle McMillan-Holifield

There was a child went forth every day,/And the first object he look’d upon, that object he became/And that object became part of him for the day, or a certain part of the day, or for many/years, or stretching cycles of years. – Walt Whitman


In my teens, I cultivated lack & longing,
guttural echoes of bitterness
fresh on the tongue of my body.

I ploughed through Sexton & Plath.
Never once thought of you.

The woman everblooming in me
yearned for feminine instincts.
I craved madness and found it,

so deliciously raw in front of me.
And it was enough.

After years coveting a child
I lit upon your Third-month lambs,
noisy brood, pink-faint litter. 

And you had me. Your crafty lure
tangling me up with water-plants

and curiously suspended fish.
And you went forth, Mr. Whitman—your esculent words
gardening me, one edible word at a time.

The womb, the child, the mother,
the father, and the idea that, childless,

I could still go forth.


Michelle McMillan-Holifield is a recent Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize nominee. Her work has been included in or is forthcoming in Boxcar Poetry Review, Jabberwock Review, Sky Island Journal, Sleet Magazine, Stirring, The Collagist, Toasted Cheese, Whale Road Review, Deep South and Windhover, among others. She hopes you one day find her poetry tacked to a tree somewhere in the Alaskan wild.

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