Joy Su :: “Fertilizer”

In my first home, we grew tomatoes and beanstalks 
and expectations like members of the same family. 
For a second, I want to be useless. I spent so much of my childhood
trying to be smart. I wanted to be a doctor, lawyer, engineer—
but mostly I just wanted to be needed. I thought myself
a gardener of sorts. Nursed people instead of plants 
all the way back to life. Remember, my mother grew up on a farm.
She can’t keep houseplants alive no matter how she tries.
I tried giving her light, water, air. I nearly forced her to eat.
We tended to each other like sundews unsure 
what was stalk or flesh. She tells me now, you were a good kid.
Why get a therapist when I have you?
I think of how flytraps live in bogs
but get their nitrogen from insects instead. 
Remember, she grew up on a farm. Don’t forget she had to leave.
I tended to my garden with fingers and pride grew up from the shoots.


Joy Su is a queer Chinese American poet. They are an editor for Polyphony Lit with work published in Augment Reviewthe lickety~split, and more. In their free time, you can find them on Twitter @joysuwrites or enjoying the scent of buttered toast. Joy goes by any pronouns.