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the gardener

Annabelle Norton

Since you left for Pennsylvania, 

My foot has been in my mouth.  

It is inextricable, shoelaces tangled 

In teeth. My words trip together 

Like stones in a tumbler, falling 

Dull and unpolished on the ear 

With a swill of silt. In the garden, 

I find it was a gardner’s boot 

You placed inside my incisors, 

And the fruits and flowers of 

Vocabulary have poked dry, 

Bony heads above the ground 

With each sentence stale  

And every word wilted.  

When you were here, the 

Greenhouse glass remained 

Unshattered. Now a fence, with 

Paint prints from your thumb, 

Stands between silence and 

Serendipity. Hungry for you, 

I eat my words. 

Plucking turns of phrase from 

Dead vines, I choke on the  

Molded meal of forgotten fruit. 

Fingers sinking into flesh, 

Juice from morphemes  

Flecks my chin 

And slivers sliced from 

Semantics slick my throat.  

Would that it might rain 

So that flower may form fruit. 

Spring 2024

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