Why the Names of Flowers

Because I learned to call them black-eyed Susans

only after hearing my father say something else.

Because this is how we teach, pointing towards

the yellow daisies by the roadside.

Because when we do not say a name, the silence

rings like a bell, and we think it. When we gather

as a family, the bell rings and rings and rings.

We are a house of bells, but the largest bell

is buried in the lake. It would take a swimming nun

stepping out of her habit to reclaim it.

It would take a priest. It would take confessions.

It would take the work of reparations,

beginning with the name of a flower.


Hannah VanderHart lives in Durham, North Carolina, under the pines. She has poetry, nonfiction and reviews published in Kenyon Review, The American Poetry Review, Poetry Northwest, The Adroit Journal, RHINO Poetry, and elsewhere. Her book, What Pecan Light, is forthcoming from Bull City Press in Spring 2021, and she is the reviews editor at EcoTheo Review.