Anna V.Q. Ross’ “After All” & D. Dina Friedman’s “Amen”

After All
Anna V.Q. Ross

Even when the garlic crop is good,
something else is always dying—

the peas withering in the afternoon we hoped
for rain instead of watering, the tomatoes

over-shaded. It should teach us something
about pathos or fate, but really

couldn’t we have tried harder? Predicted
the week of heat when the spinach bolted?

The trouble with gardening
is there’s rain and wind and sun to blame,

like the woman in the buffer zone
outside the clinic who spat at me and screamed

What kind of man is he to bring you here?
while I held your hand, and our daughter curled

in her crib at home with the sitter.
Afterward, I dozed against you

on a park bench overlooking the city
until I was ready to go back to work.

But that’s not gardening.
And still there’s the garlic—

those round, paper-skinned heads
you pulled this morning and carefully laid out

to dry on the driveway’s warm flat bed
below our window.

Originally published in  The Nation (July 15-22, 2019) and forthcoming in Flutter, Kick (Red Hen Press, 2022).

Writing Prompt: Consider how voice is working in your work. Is the voice of the speaker the only one that appears, or do other voices enter into dialogue with and complicate that voice? Write a poem in which you include at least one piece of speech by someone other than the initial speaker. This second voice can be someone you know, a quote, or simply something you overhear. See what happens when you let someone else into the poem with you.

Amen
D. Dina Friedman

I believe in dirt, the promise of onion
before it bulbs, and the kale’s resolve
to never succumb to killer frost. I believe
in leaves, defiant, despite holes
bored by hungry bugs. I believe in the cycle

of calcified shells, and the power
of compost to make things right, in raptors
snoozing in their sky-high nests, in corn stubble,
rotting radishes making space for next year’s seeds.
I believe in flowers that withstand the cold,

and the warm mud cradled in the creases
of my calloused skin. I believe in digging,
and fireflies, and pulling mint in the moonlight.
I believe in singing wildly
the crickety sounds of the night.

Writing Prompt: Start with the line “I believe…” Rinse and repeat as necessary.

Anna V. Q. Ross’s most recent book, Flutter, Kick, won the Benjamin Saltman Poetry Award and is forthcoming from Red Hen Press in November, 2022. She is a Fulbright Scholar and a Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellow, and her work appears in The NationThe Kenyon ReviewHarvard Review, and elsewhere. She is poetry editor for Salamander and a lecturer in writing at Tufts University and also teaches at Emerson College and through the Emerson Prison Initiative. Anna lives with her family in Dorchester, MA where she runs the performance series Unearthed Song & Poetry and raises chickens.

D. Dina Friedman is an avid gardener who lives in Hadley, MA. The author of two YA novels and one chapbook of poetry, she has received two Pushcart Prize nominations and published in many literary journals. http://www.ddinafriedman.com.