A Shrine of Babies By Diepreye Amanah

A Shrine of Babies

I watch her as she slips her spread fingers
into transparent examination gloves, digs
them into the potting soil in the flower pot,
pulls a handful up and pours potato peels
into the bottom. In this pot she puts
the withering bunch of red rose flowers
she was gifted last month for her
52nd birthday anniversary which she claims
is her 48th , then adds it to the collection
of vases in the right corner of the living room.
In the vases are dying or recently resuscitated
blue orchids, eucalyptus, dracaena, purple orchids
peace lilies, and a bonsai tree.
Since last month she grows ecstatic whenever
she finds a sprouted onion or potato in the pantry,
or an old garlic clove choking in parsley and celery
at the bottom of the refrigerator. She runs to tuck them
into the spaces in the soil around the other plants.
They grow now, reaching out like fingers and toes
plagued with arthritis. Their weak breath caresses her palms
and her heart leaps. I bet she names them all—
names them after the babies she could have cradled.
Maybe if she had begun this shrine
many years ago, one of the stalks would have
climbed up, crawled into and filled her empty womb.

By Diepreye Amanah


Diepreye Amanah is a senior studying English and Comparative Literature at UNC-Chapel Hill. Her poems appear in Carolina Woman Magazine, the Health Humanities Journal of UNC, and as prize winners in the 2021 A.R. Ammons Poetry Contest. Her poem is forthcoming in Up the Staircase Quarterly.

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