A Pollen Revival


The pup pulled—

if he could breast-stroke the sidewalk,

that is how he gulped the street, island-

hopping an olfactory stream, rifling

a line-up of sticks. A plaster Madonna

widow-walked a neighbor’s sill, blue-veiled

and gator-eyed. Back when we still took

the subway, there was a morning when

a little girl hollered knock-knock jokes,

and the whole train car joined in, yelling

who’s there, and she would shout the punchline,

all her tails wagging. If you want to reap

a harvest, till the soil, plant the seeds;

but that day the sweet fruit was already

stuck to us. The pup pulled me home,

where the Super was outside, and we

gee-whizzed together about the times.

The pup’s nails needed trimming—

we walk, I said, but the claws grow faster

than the grind. Overnight, the magnolias

popped their mouse-eared pods, stalks of

show-off forsythia were busting bachatas

above our heads. I always hope, the Super

said, when you can’t see the shoots, the

bulbs grow.  When we get to discard these

husks and throw them skyward, we are primed

for a call and response, a pollen revival, a

chance to yell who’s there and hear.


JESSIE-LAUREN RATCLIFFE is a graduate of Harvard Law School, who currently clerks for a federal judge and lives in Brooklyn, NY. She is analytical by day, but her mind roams at night. Her ghost lives in New Orleans.