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The third grade was the golden hour

barely prelapsarian, a paradox a paradise

a garden.


Just take a look around the room:

a chrysalis a hanging jewel

hermit crabs in a saltwater tub

and cups in a row on the window ledge—

each bears a seed and a name,

a seed inscribed to each our own,

a name-flag staked in soil.

My name is next to Conrad’s on the end.


In class we’ve copied fancy terms

like “embryo” and “endosperm”

and “cotyledon”

(precognitions of the fall,

the writing on the classroom wall)

and now we wait, to see the words made flesh

for growthquakes stirring striving blind

for pricks of green to

perforate the light.


I know it right away: my seed’s a dud.

It never lived at all or else it died–

(I panic at what is implied,

I a girl, already on thin ice,

a weird marked girl I cannot let them see

the damning allegation

that botany has pinned on me)

The seed is dead, the only one and mine.

I know before they know, so there is time.


Beginning to lapse perhaps, I swap the cups.

Laconic Conrad he can take the hit

the singular germinal failure

a solid lad, his future won’t be

wracked or wrecked by metaphor.

One week on each cup but his

has sprung a little life

and Conrad gives a sheepish shrug

and no suspicions fall on me,

I’ve lived another set of days unseen:

my changeling seed’s a sinning winner

sprouted viable and green.


This should be the turning point where

punishment rains down on me

(I know how the stories of bad children go)

For weeks I anticipate the blunt-edged blow

in moral quease, in fetal coil

but miracle, my unfound outness holds

my desk, my domicile passed over.

Slow at first I test the soil, unfurl extend a tendril

I grow bold.


After the fall the elders convene

to judge us, sift us, as they must. Of me:

“she’s really opened up this year,

blossomed, so to speak.”


It’s true. In months to come I’m named

queen of the jitterbug

spelling bee champ

heiress ascendant one of the chosen from

generation to generation

rushing headlong gleeful from the garden

my pockets full of stolen seeds.

Alana Murphy