Grace Literature Poetry

What I Learned From Growing Plants


When my succulent began
turning yellow, it dropped one fleshy leaf
every day,
indifferent to my panic
until only the stem remained
naked and alone.
You could still see the hollows
that were homes
for phantomed limbs,
where love [was] tried.


I call my plants my children
and give them
either a drowning or a drought; it is never just
right. Now, I understand
the flowering
of my parents’ pain
when they tried pouring love into me.


When my tongue becomes
tangled, I follow the twists
of its roots and find, always,
the power
on which my people stood.
It is the only way I can share the earth
with my ancestors.


My parents’ house has a thriving garden:
sunflowers, magnolias, rose bushes with crowns
of thorns.

We are still learning how to offer
the right love.

Grace is a settler living in Ontario on the traditional and Treaty territory of the Anishinabek people, now known as the Chippewa Tri-Council comprised of the Beausoleil, Rama, and Georgina Island First Nations. Her debut collection of poetry, The Language We Were Never Taught to Speak, is published by Guernica Editions and a Lambda literary award finalist. Her work can be found in Grain Magazine, Contemporary Verse 2, Arc Poetry, and elsewhere.