I am learning to love you,
my fingers unruly.
What thrives without
Not all species are hardy,
easy to grow from seed. Let us
remember how innocent we were.
prefer full sun, others tolerate
Love, didn’t I know you first
by your body’s particulate sweat?—Some
species are overlooked, mistaken
for weeds, choked by the neighboring,
and there was a time I was one
of many thin stalks none would want to cut.
You move among the many-
breasted hives, my heart under your foot,
sister of a stone. It’s true I gave
you the memory of my sister to keep, seed
of her ghost—
and you, here like this,
pressing back—it comes
back readily, and I turn
to you, caught,
your mouth opening. I feared
my father most, and fought his voice’s
hard darkening—toughest of all species,
it survives on its own, and though the propensity to hybridize creates confusion,
you and I continue to bend into and away
from each other, dark pairing. I understand
of a child growing
into a woman, one
who might show love—kneeling down
to drink again the riotous tangling of my legs in yours.
Don’t we have to cut away rungs from this
wild climbing? Here
such verdant and frost-
by Tarfia Faizullah
*Italicized lines are from "The Beekeeper's Daughter" by Sylvia Plath
Tarfia Faizullah is the Pushcart Prize winning author of Seam (SIU, 2014), winner of the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award. Her poems appear inAmerican Poetry Review, Kenyon Review, jubilat, Oxford American, New England Review, Best New Poets 2013, Poetry Daily, and have been anthologized in Excuse This Poem: 100 Poems for the Next Generation, The Book of Scented Things, and Poems of Devotion. Honors include scholarships and fellowships from Kundiman, the Fulbright Foundation, Bread Loaf, Sewanee, Kenyon Review Writers Workshop, and Vermont Studio Center. She is the Nicholas Delbanco Professor in Poetry at the University of Michigan Helen Zell Writers’ Program and co-directs the Organic Weapon Arts Chapbook Press with Jamaal May.