Backyard    by Melissa Fite Johnson

This scooped-out hole was once
the Bradford pear a friend and I sat under
last May when she lifted her shirt
to let me feel the life inside. Through
the dark soil, the tree’s roots still stretch
like lines etching a cracked egg.Melissa-Fite-Johnson_sm

She became a mother. I didn’t.
She secures the stroller’s strap, follows
her son to the park. She sits with other
mothers
in the shade. The older children
pile acorns in their mothers’ laps
until they spill to the ground.

At home, my husband and I read,
opposite ends of the couch, my feet tucked
under his side. Our tea steeps
in the kitchen. I’m not holding on
to nothing anymore. In the neighbors’ yard,
branches quilt patterns into the sky.

(Originally published in Broadsided Press, May 2017)

Melissa Fite Johnson’s first collection, While the Kettle’s On (Little Balkans Press, 2015), won the Nelson Poetry Book Award and is a Kansas Notable Book. She is also the author of A Crooked Door Cut into the Sky, winner of the 2017 Vella Chapbook Award (Paper Nautilus Press, 2018). Her poems appear or are forthcoming in Pleiades, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Broadsided Press, Sidereal, Stirring, Whale Road Review, and elsewhere. Melissa teaches English and lives with her husband and dogs in Lawrence, Kansas.

Guest editor Julie Ramon is an English instructor at NEO A&M in Miami, Oklahoma.  She graduated with an M.F.A from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. Among writing, her interests include baking, sewing, traveling, and garage sales. She is also a co-organizer of a Joplin, Missouri poetry series, Downtown Poetry. She lives in Joplin with her husband, sons, and daughter.

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