To Grow

Gardenias crowd the cellar door,
barely brushing the gristled wood
The flowers must be tended closely

full sun,
light shade,
peat moss.

She had been the flower once,
with the white silk petal-hair
strangers would stroke
without warning.

They say watch out for whiteflies,
scales, and spider mites. Don’t
touch the honeydew,
sticky and sweet.

But that little girl always fell
for pretty faces, sweet voices.

Insects leave their marks
on the soft white petals
black and inky flecks
after sucking sap
over time, so slowly
the soft tissue rots.

Brittany Smart

Listen to Brittany reading ‘To Grow’ (0:49)


Brittany Smart is a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Louisville where she is pursuing a PhD in Rhetoric and Composition. Her poetry has appeared in magazines such as Kansas City Voices, Levee, and Gravitas. Some of her favorite poets include John Keats, Muriel Rukeyser, Rainer Maria Rilke, and H.D. In her free time, she enjoys snuggling with her chihuahua, Cosmo.

© text and audio 2020