Damn, I Need a Minute


Because, sometimes, survival looks like a sunporch crowded with living plants despite

how much I’ve been told I can’t keep anything alive. Every muscling green kniving

from the dirt, reminding me of my mama’s cutting tongue, blade up, a warning with roots.

I’m learning to care for other living things and myself. I overwater my aloe

and my liver. Forget my fern needs shade as much as my heart needs to sleep

in the dark. Crowd my tomato plants the way I choke on thoughts

of leaving myself. I kill them sometimes. I try again next season.

I touch their new leaves when I can’t sleep. Whisper my worry because

What will be left for my children? Who will take cuttings and grow them in their own rooms

if this world is dead? I give them what I have—my voice, water, house in the winter. I fill my sunporch

with the living and the dead and talk to both. I put soil on my tongue because I want to taste both.

I remember how my mama said I need a minute when she got home from work, and gave her tired

to a chair, closed the door to the kitchen to escape her screaming house, and talked

to her philodendron crawling up the wall. Like my mama packed a room with plants

like gauze in a wound, I’m trying to know healing from the inside out.

Krysten Hill is an educator, writer, and performer who has showcased her poetry on stage at the Boston Book Festival, Merrimack College,The Massachusetts Poetry Festival, and many others. She received her MFA in poetry from UMass Boston where she currently teaches. Her work can be found in apt, The Baltimore Review, B O D Y, Word Riot, Muzzle, PANK, Winter Tangerine Review and elsewhere. She is the recipient of the 2016 St. Botolph Club Foundation Emerging Artist Award. Her chapbook, How Her Spirit Got Out, received the 2017 Jean Pedrick Chapbook Prize.