Julie Woulfe

What I Grew


The summer before my daughter came out,
I tilled the soil surfacing rusted screws,
and panned blue flecks of paint like gold
to plant row after row of long-stalked chard, kale,
and beets. Beets because she loves them.
Only over salads did we question how the sun glinted on the soil
and pause to eye our possibly lead-stocked greens.

It is getting harder to know what is good.
I worked in hospitals, spent years forcing hardened flesh
out of my probe’s way to carefully photograph ruined hearts.
Each year, it seems, the doctors say another thing we fought for.
The milk, the meat, even this garden—are the things that ruined them.

That’s what I thought of when she told me
after I had tucked the last of the summer greens back in their beds
and paused a moment before I pulled her closer.
How I long for something good.
How I could starve waiting to find it.

Julie Woulfe

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