Mary Alice Williams

Raising Gardenias

A woman raises
seven children
and gardenias in pots
set out on tar bejeweled
with broken glass
next to the stoop
in a public housing project.

What will grow
will grow,
her credo.

Gardenias she knows
must be coaxed
from balanced soil
water and light provided
in exact proportion
fertilizer applied precisely.
She knows

they bruise,
at the petal’s edge

at any point
of heedless contact.
Such blooms,
fragrant, creamy

Watched with care
her potted prizes

Given a lick and a promise
by random elements
cooled or warmed,
parched or slaked,
the children

bruised around the edges.

Mary Alice Williams, a Rhode Island native, writes in Grand Rapids MI. Winner of the Dyer-Ives Poetry Contest judged by Conrad Hilberry, she is published in journals including Ekphrastic Review, Blue Heron Review, Peninsula Poets and the anthology, Sunflowers: Ukrainian Poetry on War, Resistance, Hope and Peace. She is a member of the Poetry Society of Michigan.

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