I have never been pretty,
never skinny, obedient or pleasing.
I fail each time I plant an idea —
to be lovely, to be sweet — but this year,
on a south-facing patio, I have managed
to grow a crop of healthy apologies,
full and robust, strong and believable.
Out of each clay pot springs a perfect
green woman with straight gold hair.
These are the “say-it-like-you-mean-it”
variety, the six-foot relentless beauties,
the mammoth self-reproaching blossoms.
I water them faithfully,
guard against birds and beetles.
I give the first mature flower to my mother,
who says she likes daisies better, the next
to my lover, who says he prefers violets
that know how to curtsy.
By August, I have too many metaphors
for remorse. I make breads, sauces, jellies.
I leave humble bouquets on neighbors’ porches.
No one comes to the door. No one likes to see
a woman with arms full of burdens.
No one wants to watch me
pick seeds out of my sorry teeth.
Carolee Sherwood is a painter, mixed media artist and poet
living in Southern Rensselaer County, a rural and agricultural area within
New York’s Capital Region. She has roots in Northern Maine, where she was born
and raised, and in West Virginia, the college “home among the hills”
where she received an undergraduate degree in journalism. Her poetry is published locally and nationally
and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is co-editor for Ouroboros
Review (an international literary magazine), a freelance writer
and a reviewer for Poets’ Quarterly. She serves as co-president
of the Hudson
Valley Writers Guild. For three years, she was part of the
creative team that produced Read Write Poem.