A Beginner's Guide to Companion Planting

Fig. 3. (To be planted in proximity) 

by Lily Poppen


fig. 3.1. Ocimum basilicum

     Bundled bodies torn up like commas,

     fat at the head at the shoulders and now


     it is Fall, filled and still fat, 

     saturated with traumatic black, Tramatikos 

     pertaining to a wound, stemming from the 


     Root of tere- to rub to turn to twist

     A bundle wrapped in six layers


     displaced from where it was rooted, 

     picked up, peeled back, 

     streaks down its back


     -terə the Proto-Indo-

     European took root and spread


     through the orphanage courtyard, 

     bundles of blankets, the taste of Peking 

     Duck-footed, I clutch a stuffed bear


     Happy Birthday how lucky you are, 

     to have turned twelve today, Happy, 


     birthday body you are standing,

     in the kitchen, tearing basil and trimming

     the excess bounty from its slender green body. 


     Yesterday you pinched at its folds and bit down

     bitter. You are so lucky, that you got adopted


     Lounging limply in the kitchen sink, 

     no language to link back to your body

     Paragraphs infected with pests, We are 


     tired of you turning your back on us twisting 

     our words we nurtured you we raised you wed


     give the clothes off our backs for your body. Blessed 

     art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit 

     your womb, but hers did not bud, Holy Basil, Mother 


     of Ocimum, pray for us sinners, be a salve for the sores

     repair runaway sentences, fragmented heritage 


     the body is not yours it is still a dependent 

     clause, because "It is no accident, Ma, that the comma

     resembles a fetus—that curve of continuation"

               I don't know how to grow any more than you knew how to nurture


fig. 3.2. Chamaemelum nobile

               Chamaemelum nobile, no need for a suture. 

     Under your thumb

     I dug a hollow

     all sorts of promises  

     I propagate then leave

     bitter grounds in your sink


     lounging limply with our skin shorn bare

     infuse gazes with glass and refuse to share 


     what we are willing to weather

     cycles of seething and

     teeming and tithing

     repelling things biting 

     I was bored.


     You brood

     co-habitation grew 

     to co-dependent infestation

     a drug for our dormancy

     sleep or drowsy sex the sedative


     We displaced each other in a plot to arrange 

     how presence can closely keep us estranged


     from queries that cut

     Are we doing this right?

     Beyond the need to survive?

     Replanting, renewing

     no shared roots as the tie?


     Holes in the teacup devoid of their tide,

               I miss you new england in bed with your sighs.


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