Poetry: Sprawling, the garden is, and fruitful by Justin Danzy

Beauty, life, growth, abundance—these are a few things a garden can represent, and of these few things comes family, the sacredness of one’s family, the ways in which love is the vehicle. In Justin Danzy’s, Sprawling, the garden is, and fruitful,” the speaker reminds us of such familiarity that it is almost Edenic–“all things of love are beautiful and sacred, / the way this overgrown garden is, too, beautiful and sacred // and surrounding us”


Sprawling, the garden is, and fruitful

We check it each day, many times, walk barefooted
through the grass to the corner of the yard
that has blossomed to jungle, unkempt, unplanned,

the tomato plants robust and thick as saplings,
the cucumber vines and their rough leaves,
which I brush with the back of my hand like a cheek.

The firstfruits are coming in, a bouquet of mint, lavender,
the peppers growing shyly in the back, cherry tomatoes,
one of which we’ve harvested, perhaps too soon, and cut

into six slivers so each of us would have a piece to enjoy.
It won’t last long, this life, this moment, my brother here
from South Carolina, his daughter from Arizona, me

from the low places I’ve sheltered in since I left years ago.
I can’t help but be in awe of it, creation, this life
that flows in and through us, the tomato plants

which grow youthful and sturdy, then lean, sagging
and groaning with time, their inevitable decay,
how it all decays. My mother walks with a limp now

and holds tightly to the rail when scaling the steps
up to the front porch. We worry about each other,
and my father, and my brother, and sister, who is tired

from working and in need of surgery to replace a leaky valve
in her heart. She calls me when I’m not here
to talk about K-Pop and other things I care nothing about,

which is her way of saying she loves me, which I find beautiful
and sacred, the way all things of love are beautiful and sacred,
the way this overgrown garden is, too, beautiful and sacred

and surrounding us as we gather in its midst tonight, the final night
we will spend together, grateful to be amongst the living and dying
and soon to be living again.




Justin Danzy

Justin Danzy is a Chancellor’s Graduate Fellow at Washington University in St. Louis, where he is completing his MFA. He was the 2019 Gregory Pardlo Fellow at the Frost Place. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in New Ohio Review, West Branch, The Offing, On The Seawall, Guesthouse and elsewhere. He is from Southfield, Michigan.

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