Preparing the Garden – by Wendy DeGroat

 

There is satisfaction in the reclaiming,
defining again where things end and begin.
Twigs and leaf-debris cleared from beds.
Dime-high seedlings, oak and holly, pulled,
weeds too. Willow fence restaked. Bench
brushed clean. Afterward, shoulders
and back that good kind of weary. Heat
seeps from my shirt as I rest in the shade,
peaceful riot of birdsong and traffic, cheers
from a distant ballgame, a fountain gurgling.

What more could I wish of this place?

As I think this, two sparrows race past.
And for the first time, as my eyes follow
their flight, I notice a Celtic cross
under the neighbors’ Nandina and recall
the dogs they lost this winter, our cat
we lost this fall. I wonder if the cross
marks one or both their losses, or whether
it’s planted to help us remember them all.

 

 

Wendy DeGroat’s poetry has appeared in U.S. and U.K. publications, including Common-place, Raleigh Review, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Mslexia, Forage, and The Brillantina Project. She lives in Richmond, Virginia, where she works as a librarian, teaches writing workshops, and curates poetryriver.orgHer chapbook Beautiful Machinery is forthcoming from Headmistress Press in 2017.

When I’m Asked, Have You Ever Been Pregnant? – by Wendy DeGroat

 

I see myself in the high school cafeteria, leaning in to hear
above the clamor. In stirrup pants and leg warmers, I’m a confusion
of books and boyfriends, backpack tiled with buttons: Cats, Not Kids.

After college, a decade passes with a husband. Two cats. No attempts
to make it otherwise. Then that afternoon in a friend’s kitchen—
my arm stretched to spread paint, I feel the air behind me ignite.

                                                                 When I let go
of the roller, turn, I am pressed
between sheetrock and a woman’s weight. Around me, everything tinder.

Yet most times, a later scene lingers: calendars, injections with my feet in stirrups.
Then cramps. Tears. Embrace of the woman who loved me then.
Scene repeated for nearly a year. Fruitless pursuit for what my body would not bear.

 

 

 

Wendy DeGroat’s poetry has appeared in U.S. and U.K. publications, including Common-place, Raleigh Review, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Mslexia, Forage, and The Brillantina Project. She lives in Richmond, Virginia, where she works as a librarian, teaches writing workshops, and curates poetryriver.orgHer chapbook Beautiful Machinery is forthcoming from Headmistress Press in 2017.