Jeanne Wagner: "Growing Greens at the Aeroponics Farm"




I walk by rows of see-through growing pans,

embarrassed for the stringy taproots 

dangling like legs with their pants pulled down.

Pale strands kinked and twiddling the air. 

No soft bed of loam to sink their tendrils in,

no ground to moil, no dark earth,

origin of all their convoluted dreams. 

Only a constant dose of patented mist, 

like those department store perfumes

we used to spray behind our ears, 

inhaling counterfeit pheromones

to learn the language of scent, because 

I wanted to learn all the invisible things:

roots unraveling like ripped out yarn, 

ganglia, rhizome, folded cerebellum.  

The frizzy-haired child who blamed her 

misshapen follicles on the family genes, 

each strand defined by the shape of its fiber: 

smooth, ovoid or crimped, the mind 

itself a maze, a puzzle, like the patterns

the ancients read in the entrails of animals, 

knowing the holiness of hidden things; 

roots a childhood scrawled upside down  

in the dark—though these roots are orphans, 

the hairs on the ends sucking their potions 

with a finely calibrated hunger. Leaves too 

groomed and coddled, too free of growing pains 

to love the world I love; every head identical. 

Light combing them into conformity.


Jeanne Wagner is the winner of the 2014 Sow’s Ear Poetry Review Award and the 2015 Arts & Letters Rumi Award, judged by Stephen Dunn. Her poems have appeared in Cincinnati Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Shenandoah, and American Life in Poetry. The author of five collections, her most recent book, In the Body of Our Lives, was released by Sixteen Rivers Press in 2011. She is on the editorial board of California Quarterly.