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Tuesday, October 22, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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American Life in Poetry: ‘Growing Apples’

By Ted Kooser U.S. poet laureate, 2004-06

Nancy Miller Gomez lives in California and directs writing workshops for incarcerated men and women. This poem gives us a glimpse of innocent delight inside those walls. It’s from her chapbook, “Punishment,” from Rattle.

Growing Apples

There is big excitement in C block today.

On the window sill,

in a plastic ice cream cup

a little plant is growing.

This is all the men want to talk about:

how an apple seed germinated

in a crack of damp concrete;

how they tore open tea bags

to collect the leaves, leached them

in water, then laid the sprout onto the bed

made of Lipton. How this finger of spring

dug one delicate root down

into the dark fannings and now

two small sleeves of green

are pushing out from the emerging tip.

The men are tipsy with this miracle.

Each morning, one by one,

they go to the window and check

the progress of the struggling plant.

All through the day they return

to stand over the seedling

and whisper.

Poem copyright 2018 by Nancy Miller Gomez, from “Punishment,” (Rattle, 2018), and reprinted by permission of the author and publisher. American Life in Poetry is supported by the Poetry Foundation and the English department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. We do not accept unsolicited submissions.

Wordcount: 215
Tags: ae, books

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