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Joelle Lynn Renstrom

Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Date of Birth: 5/2/78
Published In: The Allegheny Review, Nostalgia, Gotta Write Network, Moonlighting, Isosceles, etc . . .
Awards: Hopwood Prize for Poetry, First place story in Byline Magazine


Loneliness changes the way the world lays out.
It becomes a picture in a private museum,
a single placemat on a dinner table.
The cracks on the walls grow names.

When I walked down Grafton Street,
a particle of dust in the push-broom
of bristling people,
I passed vendors selling potted plants
and flowers for cheap. They said
the lilies sometimes lasted a week
and that spider plants didn't need much light.

But I was afraid I would forget to water them,
and I did not want the cold guilt
of brown leaves tickling the floor,
stem tipping like an old spine.

So I breathed the air of the apartment alone,
quietly, most of the time. I never snored.

One morning I went to brush my teeth
in the old white sink and there,
sprouting from the spillhole
a few inches above the drain,
a plant with a wiry green stalk.

Maybe it was from the cucumber seeds
I washed off a salad plate last week,
or maybe the plant was just a sewer weed.

When morning slunk on tiptoe,
behind the sound of rushing cars,
something grew in the damp dark
and wended its way up to me.

I never had to water that volunteer.