I sow the seeds in the bellies of my children,

tiny firecrackers brimming with possibility.

I plant them—authentic joy, thoughts

of their wildest dreams coming true.

In their open palms, I rub dirt, polishing

the creases, tracing little maps like a way home,

the underside of tiny fingernails caked,

salty beads of sweat trickling down their cheeks.

I tell them about the helpers.

I water with platitudes,

selling a world of which I’m uncertain.

But it’s safe here, mom, right?

It’s safe here.

I offer my lies like a delicious, cozy comforter,

encasing them with reassurance, the power of parental love.

I would die for you, I think.

It’s safe here, I say.

They won’t know until they’re older.

They’ll get older and know their mother was a liar.

But the garden cannot grow if I don’t sow the seeds.

I toil in the sun, I clutch the dirt, holding the lies I tell myself.

I plant my garden knowing there’s a chance it won’t grow.

MOLLY WADZECK KRAUS is a freelance writer, poet, and essayist. Born and raised in Waco, Texas, she moved to the Finger Lakes region of New York, where she worked in animal rescue and welfare for many years. Her work has been published in Arkana Mag, Red Ogre Review, Papeachu Press, among others. Her creative nonfiction, an Editor’s Choice Award winner, was nominated for a Best of the Net award by Arkana in 2022.