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The toddlers maintain
zucchini, sing the songs
only they and those closer to the earth

Understand. For us, rows
of hot, delicate zinnia, cosmos in all the colors;
the bright lips with virgin hands we move

Over the neon daisies: those are for preteens,
and for the engineers the pear trees

That blossom in chorus under the gazebo—

Wed yourself to love there, if you are sixteen; it is always a beautiful time for
everyone. There’s space for
the mourners in the rows of herb garden—

Back there the teens grow parsley,
basil, mint,
and rosemary. They brought those
to baby Jesus’s grave,
didn’t they? asks Ella. I don’t know, I say;

I think he was
in the desert and only the cacti
can make flowers there. She thinks
——————-—it’s so sad. Where do they

Pray to the rockets? Did you know
that’s called arugula? I say. But where, she wonders,
do they smell lavender or taste

Basil? like her grandma’s jars, the red ones
on the shelf she used for dinner, back before. Back before
was a world uncontained
in the head of that bright

Pink flower. She’s crying. I watch her. She has snapped the head

off a precious daisy. Yes, that’s the taste, I say,
I remember it too. Basil.



Danielle Wheeler was the 2010–11 Rona Jaffe Fellow in Poetry at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she earned her MFA. She currently works for the Magid Center for Writing in Iowa City and can be found online at



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