House among garden, illustration by Melissa Castrillón

One Poem by Danusha Laméris

from Leaning Toward Light

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Working in the Garden,
I Think of My Son

Who is nothing, now, but a few fistfuls of ash. Not even that, since ash
dissolves and is taken into the bodies of plants, or swept into the air
on the wind. He’s so very fine he slips undetected
through a whale’s baleen, or a beetle’s gullet. He can even rise
through a stalk of grass with the upward pull of phloem,
in these first green days of spring. He has no use, now, for the soft
black hair through which I would run a slender comb,
nor for his oddly shaped thumbs. Nor anything in this world.
Though the things of the world may have use of him,
his molecules filtering through them—carbon, oxygen, nitrogen,
a whisper of hydrogen—the modest building blocks of life,
quietly, and without announcement.

    

    

Leaning Toward Light: Poems for Gardens and the Hands That Tend Them, edited by Tess TaylorThis poem is excerpted from Leaning Toward Light: Poems for Gardens and the Hands That Tend Them (Storey Publishing, 2023), edited by Tess Taylor, a beautiful poetry anthology offering a warm, inviting selection of poems from a wide range of voices that speak to the collective urge to grow, tend, and heal—an evocative celebration of our connection to the green world.

This is the second of five poems from the anthology reprinted in Terrain.org over the first week of September 2023. As an introduction to the poems, read Tess Taylor’s “Poems and Gardens as Kind Companions”.

This poem is reprinted by permission of the editor and publisher.

  

Danusha LamérisDanusha Laméris is the author of The Moons of August (Autumn House Press, 2014) and Bonfire Opera (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020), which won the Northern California Book Award in Poetry. Some of her work has been published in Best American Poetry, Orion, The New York Times, American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, Tin House, and Prairie Schooner. The recipient of the 2020 Lucille Clifton Agency Award, she co-leads the Poetry of Resilience webinars and HearthFire Writing Community with James Crews; was the 2018-2020 poet laureate of Santa Cruz County, California; and is on the faculty of Pacific University’s low-residency MFA program.

Header image by Melissa Castrillón, from Leaning Toward Light. Photo of Danusha Laméris courtesy Poetry of Resilience.

Terrain.org is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, art, commentary, and design since 1998.