Planting Brussel Sprouts

by Barbara Quick

After the poetry reading—shaken, humbled
and thrilled—I limp on my black-and-blue foot outside
to finally get that pony-pack of Brussel sprout starts
in the ground.

Grabbing gloves and trowel and garden hose,
a kneeling pad, it feels so right, as if I knelt
not in the dirt but in some kind of church,
grateful that these words of mine that swirl inside my brain—
that have saved me since the age of nine,
now speak to strangers—move them!

Just as miraculous, that these starts,
bought at the nursery weeks ago, aren’t at all pot-bound,
but take to the ground like baby ducks to water,
their vegetal wings a gorgeous celadon color
against the rich loam that also blesses me,
here in this place I call home.

I’m sure my problematic blood pressure is surging now,
following a difficult morning with my husband,
and too short a time to get myself ready and test the mic,
and trouble galore getting into the Zoom room.

But poetry saved me again, and I give back
by giving these six young plants the chance
to spread their roots and search the earth
for sustenance.

I’ve never succeeded with Brussel sprouts before.
Never managed, in my garden, to produce
a single one of those extravagant stalks bejeweled
with tightly wrapped, vitamin-packed,
leafy and perfectly round little cabbage-heads.

But this year feels different in so many ways.

Although I’ve cried more, I think, than ever before,
and my oldest, darkest fears have been disinterred,
I am finding resilience in my writing,
in the words strung into bright shining lines
and shared with the world.

photo credit: Lemenieh Lewes, Getty Images