• Marías at Sampaguitas

Poetry by Khalisa Rae

Updated: Aug 6, 2020

Plant Parenting


she said she only picks the half-grown ones

a fig and lemon tree nursed past the delicate

stages, a bonsai or begonia watered in a nursery


by experienced handlers first. she says

she leaves the pruning and seeding for

gardeners with steady hands 

and less trauma, that way there's less room

for error. I tell her this is how I wish to mother

to adopt after puberty and avoid the age

that holds the worst memories, to skip the steps

I will surely stumble over. I am afraid my future

children will yellow and droop, like all the other buds

that died before they bloomed. 

And I will be the parent clumsy and untaught. 

Watching their leaves wilt and wither— afraid

my heavy heart will stunt their growth,

won’t know when to water & when to wait

how much sun & how much silence. 

I am afraid of drowning them 

in all the ways I was. And how does one know

when to shelter and when to let the wildness

take over. 



Khalisa Rae (she/her) is a native of North Carolina and is a graduate of the Queens University MFA program. Her recent work has been seen in Damaged Goods, Terse, Sundog Lit, Crab Fat, Glass Poetry, Luna, Luna, Brave Voices, Hellebore,  Honey & Lime, Tishman Review, the Obsidian, Anchor Magazine, among others. She was a finalist in the Furious Flower Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize, winner of the Fem Lit Magazine Contest, and White Stag Publishing Contest. She is Consulting Editor for Kissing Dynamite. Her forthcoming collection, Ghost in a Black Girls Throat is forthcoming from Red Hen Press and White Stag in 2021. She is also the newest Managing Equity and Inclusion Editor of Carve Magazine.

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