Terra Vita

My mother kneeling

next to the hibiscus

with a little hand shovel

planting hyacinths

when I came to watch her.


I must have been seven or eight,

wide-eyed at the vague thing

flopping in her hand.

She reached in, fumbled

through the soil. When she found


the other half of the worm

she placed it at the base of a flower

to show me that it was still alive,

that both halves were working

on their own, wriggling


back to their underground world

to be useful:



It’s gorgeous in Boston today,

everyone is outside sunbathing

just like that day with the worm


and I know I had a dream about you

again. Or maybe it was your dream

and I was conjured to dwell there


so you wouldn’t be alone. Why

I anticipate forgetting the clouds

today, their shapes, how lifelike


they are when they drift…

why I remember the worm…

it has something to do with skin


and pink smokestacks. My palms

red before callusing

after working at a steer,

or dragging a heavy load…


Oh God, you hath given me two hands

but only one heart.




Lisa Hiton holds an M.F.A. in poetry from Boston University and an M.Ed. in Arts in Education from Harvard University. Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in Linebreak, The Paris-American, The Literary Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and The Cortland Review among others. Her first book has been a finalist or semi-finalist for the New Issues Poetry Prize, the Brittingham & Felix Pollack Poetry Prize, the Crab Orchard Review first book prize, and the YesYes Books open reading period. Her chapbook was a finalist for the DIAGRAM Chapbook Prize. She has received the Esther B Kahn Scholarship from 24Pearl Street at the Fine Arts Work Center and two nominations for the Pushcart Prize.