Published on Academy of American Poets (

The Weeds In This Garden

Long ago, I built a self outside myself.
I ate what my family ate, answered

to my name, but when they said let us pray,
I kept my eyes open. There is a price

to be paid for resistance. Whatever
you call me, I have called myself

worse, invented words made up
of letters from my own name.

Now the backs of my hands, all bone
and strain, I think cannot be mine.

Who hasn’t killed herself at least once,
only to grow into someone needier?

Who hasn’t bent with her wounds
to a mutinous patch, weeds

shooting up like false rhubarb,
every wisp, stem, and sodden pith

a testament? Who hasn’t scratched
at the question of what it means to be here?


Copyright © 2018 by Kari Gunter-Seymour. This poem originally appeared in Still: The Journal, Fall 2018. Used with permission of the author.


Kari Gunter-Seymour

Kari Gunter-Seymour is the author of A Place So Deep Inside America It Can’t Be Seen (Sheila-Na-Gig Editions, 2020). She was named the Poet Laureate of Ohio in 2020. In 2021, she received an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship.

Date Published: 2018-09-01

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