I unzip fava beans and pop

them out of their thick shells,

separating them from

what sustained their growth,

as my friend’s son chirps

in his newfound voice.

I palm each fat comma.

I want to fill the world

with daughters not my own

but ones who learn how

to braid, are mesmerized

by stones. Thank God I had

daughters, my mother

would repeat. Until she didn’t.

Some seeds beside ones

that look ready to burst

have shriveled up, my labor

for their flesh in vain.

All I can do is promise.

Alyse Bensel’s poems have most recently appeared or are forthcoming in The Adroit Journal, Zone 3, Quarterly West, New South, Bone Bouquet, and elsewhere. She is the author of the poetry chapbooks Not of Their Own Making (dancing girl press) and Shift (Plan B Press) and serves as the Book Reviews Editor at The Los Angeles Review. A PhD candidate in creative writing at the University of Kansas, she lives in Lawrence.