Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon


I too have turned

to the yard


turning the yard



frustration of flowers

I have felt for


a knot in the soil

coaxing pulling at


bindweed roots

pulling gently so


they give

half inch by half inch


the vines wound

silently violent


round the necks

of black eyed



Name each


flower and the yard



ground becomes


brunnera bleeding

heart bearded


iris peony purple

coneflower lupine



I enter


the garden

I enter hackles raised


One finger then two three

sliding into the earth


It falls away from itself like

cake crumbs


If I lower my mouth to it

I can catch the grains


of dirt on my lips

sweep them



with my tongue


A man who wanted to tie me

to a tree once licked


raw sugar from

my open hand


a policeman he wanted me

to behave


like an animal

From yard to garden


misprision  a prisoning

measure     of space


I hold up my hand and

drizzle strikes at


every target but my palm


I cannot be touched

by anything above me




“Garden” is from The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South (University of Georgia Press, 2007).