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And now the habanero plant
produces so much
that it looks like a Christmas tree
decorated with tiny pumpkin ornaments.

It doesn’t seem to mind
my forgetting to water it—in fact,
both my neglect and the drought
seem good for it and only it.

The basil curls and browns to the shade
of burning paper, the tomato
stays fruitless, while the real pumpkins
droop their leaves like broken umbrellas.

Every year, I surprise myself
with how bad I am at most of the things
I want to be good at: gardening
and happiness, mainly.

Still, when the scissors snap,
the peppers drop into my hand,
a weight that feels
hopeful because it’s almost not there

but is, like God’s presence
in a wafer. I admit I’m grateful
for these small orange sacraments,
how they turn my mouth into the wound I love,

that little cave where I practice
this illogical religion that believes
the cure for pain is more pain
and that there’s plenty in the garden.



James Davis May lives in Macon, Georgia. His most recent poetry collection, Unusually Grand Ideas (LSU), was published in February 2023.



Image courtesy of Krista Bennett, via Unsplash.

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