a springtime view out the window

The silver pole peeks out from my neighbor’s roof, still, in the late-spring sunlight. Midnight blue wrapped thrice around it, deflated and confused. Looking at the stars, I feel sad, as if I will suffocate under their weight. Below, the red and white stripes float lazily in the breeze, mirroring the newly-arrived leaves on the tree opposite the porch. The confident stripes feel oppressive, indifferent, terrifyingly unfeeling. I can only see the very top of the flag, and the very bottom, but just the outline of it gives me the heebie jeebies.

To our neighbor, though, does the flag feel different? He is a Vietnam war vet, a Black man, a retired Kodak man, a king of the streets (his words, not mine), a loyal husband to his wife since 1976. When he bought the house, he erected the flag pole himself, carefully placed the United States’ flag on it, let it wave in the wind for all to see. The proud silver rod is the figurehead at the prow of his porch.

According to the Royal Museums Greenwich, a ship’s figurehead embodies “the spirit of the vessel, offering the crew protection from harsh seas and safeguarding their homeward journey.” Protection. Safeguarding. Spirit. Home. These words form such a stark contrast to the words that brew in my chest: Scared. Unsafe. Chaotic. Defeated.

Is it our age that separates our very different reactions to the flag? Is it our communities? Is it the time we were born? What is it that makes him want to raise that flag proudly and call it home? What is it that makes me want to wrap it up tightly, put it in a box, and never see it again?



tiny hairs on the tomato stems are white in the morning light. basil leaves broad and satin, tilted towards the southern window. hot water poured over Earl Grey leaves, curled like seeds in a silver cradle. silky cow’s milk drops in, the whole fragrant mug waiting patiently on a table as the Bergamot and tannins infuse into the gently steaming mixture. peanut butter spread on store-bought english muffins (the homemade ones are long gone), melting into the doughy crags. tendrils of coffee-scented air waft across seedling tops, red armchair, rainbow beams of light from the crystal hanging in the window, laundry draped across the old metal rack, stacks of poetry books, cobwebs between the ceiling and the walls. breakfast has commenced.

the first year

The first year that I cut down all the dead kudzu, putting a tarp down to stop the new growth.

The first year that all of our plants are on shelves.

The first year that we only have one plaid couch.

The first year that we have a real living room that I can read in.

The first year that I reread Peter and the Starcatchers and realized that even that book has dangerous patriarchal and misogynist imagery in it.

The first year that I feel capable of living.

On Plant Babies

I’ve been writing about some heavy shit recently, so tonight I want to talk about something more joyful: house plants. I’m obsessed. I feel like a lot of people got super into house plants over the past two years. We were stuck inside in quarantine for so much of 2020: forced to face our own inner worlds for months at a time, as well as our dreary apartments that we hadn’t quite gotten around to fixing up. We needed relief.

We needed something to care about, other than the global pandemic and the presidential election. We needed something that was our own, something we didn’t have to do in tandem with our housemates, who were ALWAYS AROUND (why were they always popping up in the room we wanted to be alone in?). We needed some friggen house plants.

I harbor real love for my plants. They’re like little babies, except they don’t wake up screaming in the middle of the night, or suck up all of your hard-earned cash as soon as you put it in the bank. They’re the perfect progeny: demanding just enough attention that you feel accomplished, even benevolent, for nurturing them, but not so needy that you feel overwhelmed and desperate for a break. Plus, I’ve been learning so much. Now I know that you can propagate almost any plant, as long as you have time and a lot of patience.

When I graduated from the University of Rochester in 2019, a close friend gave me his Pothos babies that he had been rooting in plastic water-bottles. I planted them in hanging baskets that were WAY too big for their tiny little roots. Not knowing that at the time, I just patiently waited for them to grow, keeping them in a sunny spot on our porch in the summer, and by a window upstairs in the winter. Now, they’re huge, healthy vines that cascade down into my home studio.

Plants are amazing for sharing love, and passing down traditions. I’ve propagated more Pothos babies from those original plants than I can count, and gifted a precious Pothos baby to a close friend. I also gave a Pilea pup to my mom to bring back to her farmhouse in Vermont. For awhile, she sent me daily updates on how the plant was doing. It was so cute. My grandmother has a 30-year old jade tree, with a thick trunk, that I absolutely love. When I was there last, I collected a jade pup from this primordial mother, a small, dark-green baby that’s now growing happily on my windowsill in Rochester.

It feels really lovely to know that the plants you’re growing can actually make other people’s lives brighter, not just your own. Sharing plants is a huge reason I love growing them.

For more propagating madness, I picked up a couple of Arrowhead cuttings from my neighbors, which I rooted in water. Most of them didn’t make it, since I was pretty inexperienced and had no idea how much to water anything, but one plant survived. I’ve had that little one for over a year now. Once, she was down to a single leaf, and I valiantly nursed her back to health. Now, she’s healthy and happy with lots of leaves, sitting on my piano in front of a south-facing window.

I find it hilarious, and touching, that word is getting out that I’m obsessed with plants. One friend moved away from Rochester for a year-long graduate program in Spain and left her house plants with me to “babysit.” I happily welcomed her Cat Palm and Zebra succulent into my growing indoor jungle. It’s a bit more pressure taking care of someone else’s plants, but I like the challenge.

My mom, seeing how excited I was about all of my house plants, brought me a Prayer plant as a gift. She said it was my grandmother’s favorite plant. It made me feel more connected to my family. Now, whenever I water my Prayer plant or trim yellowing leaves, I feel like I’m with my mother and grandmother.

I’ll tell one last plant story, and then I have to go to sleep. My dad, who is a real estate agent in Vermont, was showing a house that had been abandoned for a few years. It belonged to an old couple, both deceased now, and the family was finally selling it. Sitting on a small stool by the front door, forgotten in its terra cotta pot, was an ancient aloe plant struggling to survive. This thing was huge. It mostly consisted of dry, yellow stalks. Just the tips of the plant were green, juicy aloe leaves. He saw it, and immediately knew what he had to do. He brought it to Rochester as a gift for me.

I was ecstatic. I can’t even tell you how excited I was to have this nearly-dead aloe plant. I immediately went to work digging out individual roots, cutting off excess dried leaves, replanting the big old plants in their own individual pots, potting the healthier pups, and composting the parts that were too far gone to save. I now have an entire guest room FULL of aloe plants. Some are large, some are tiny, some have long yellow stalks, and I love them all. A lot of them have started growing pups, and I can’t wait until I have pots overflowing with green, healthy aloe. I have no idea what I’m going to do with all of it, but I don’t really care.

Now that I’m in Florida, I genuinely miss all my plant babies. They bring me so much joy. When I’m feeling really anxious, angry, or lonely, watering and pruning my plants is one of the only things that can bring me out of my funk. Or at least make me feel less alone.

Here are the house plants I’m taking care of right now:
-Laurentii Snake plant
-Whale’s Fin Snake plant
-Golden Pothos
-Jade plant
-Vittatum Spider plant
-Pilea (Chinese money plant)
-Cat Palm
-Sword Fern
-Dragon Tree
-Zebra plant
-Elephant Bush
-Alice evans succulent
-Arrowhead plant
-Peace plant
-Aloe Vera

Succulent Bush Senecio

Here are the house plants I’ve managed to kill so far:
-Mexican Snow Ball
-Ruby peperomia
-Echeveria ‘Perle von Nurnberg’
-Lavender (I’ve actually killed two different lavender plants….)

-English Ivy
-Strawberry Begonia

-probably more I’m forgetting


there is a time to rest

among the soft flowers

[they exist

whether you are there

or not]

More Than Us

inspired by the squirrels living in our ceiling

I have dreams about large animals
lounging in the rafters
smiling down at me with their kind eyes
lifting feathers with their sighs

the footsteps in my ceiling
they keep me up at night
I imagine they belong to gentle bears
or doves in quiet pairs

this house is home to more than us
but we’ll never see their glorious

asleep behind the table there
aglow with dreams of steadfast care
this house is home to more than u

I wake up to the dinosaurs
trudging through the yard
crying tears and tears and tears and tears and tears
surprised to end up here

polar bears and elephants
otters kissing lambs
I can hear their heartbeats pressed against the walls
I listen for their calls

this house is home to more than us
but we’ll never see their glorious

asleep behind the table there
aglow with dreams of steadfast care
this house is home to more than us