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Talking to Plants

An old man with his feet before the fire
In robes of green, in garments of adieu.
~ Roethke

Goodnight, and by dawn leaves
open and unroll toward
my breathing. So many,
they collect all the light.
Ferns, peace lily,

ivy for my talon hands
to tend and water and prune.
It smells like dew and loss

in my home of sympathy
flowers and ironed suites.
I am always just behind the hearse.
My feet are layered in soil,

hands stained by the green
inkwell. I loved Sherlie,
my wife, she is a perennial now,
the begonia.

Too old to care for the yard
so the hedges shape into odd animals
and crab grass thrusts between Kentucky blue.

I am weary of the crows
in the stooped tree, lost
cats on my doorstep,
grandfather clock in the hall,
sundial in the fading garden,
hourglass on the bureau, bats
who’ve flown a long way

to hang in my heart.
But still they grow,
expensive plants of sorry,
taking up all the sills.



Brittney Scott received her MFA from Hollins University. She is the 2012 recipient of the Joy Harjo Prize for Poetry as well as the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize. She teaches creative writing to adults, Girl-Scouts, and high-risk youth at Richmond’s Visual Arts Center.