the harvester

green parsley seedlings on marble table Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

sometimes I think how it would be nice to be someone
who grows herbs neatly in planters on a sill,
who knows how to tend to them just the right way,
with the right soil, the right timing for harvesting,
the right instinct for trimming

how fine a thing, I think to myself,
to take all those potted spoils and garner them
when they’re ready, hang the ones that need drying,
chop the fresh ones for a bright, vibrant meal,
store everything in little glass jars, neatly labeled,
lined on a shelf

when I think of this I think of someone who always hopes
their guests will ask about their little herbed collections,
laud them for their attentiveness and care—
who are always a bit hurt—thin little cracks—
when no one ever asks

they still putter around, though, in their kitchens
or wherever the sun streams best for growing,
and trim and sort and dry and crumble and cook;
they invite in their visitors, pour them wine,
set down plates, brew them coffee when the meal is over,
and still no one asks

must you then caress your little jars with pride,
maybe open one and smell all that you have achieved,
place it back, and when the last jacket or shawl has been put on
once more at the end of the night
and you are alone with the aromatics you have raised,
all together in the dark, turn on your heel to bed

Lauren Swift‘s work has appeared with Cimarron Review, North American Review, Atlanta Review, The 2River View, The Rumpus, Birdcoat Quarterly, No Contact, and as the recipients of Academy of American Poets Prizes in 2016 and 2019. She has lived many places but has recently returned to the Sacramento area, which somehow feels closest to home, even in the blistering summers. She can be found online at

Appears In

Issue 15

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