Mia Vance
January 2021

Mia Vance is an emerging poet pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English and Creative Writing at the University of Oregon, Eugene, where she currently lives with her husband, son, and two cats. One of the founding members of the Eugene-based poets’ collective The Dead Parrots Society, Mia has performed her poetry solo, in collaboration with local dance performance groups, and alongside her husband, the incredible composer/musician Cullen Vance. When not studying, writing, or performing, Mia can be found tucked away with a skein of yarn or a good book in the comfiest chair in the house. In lieu of popping by for tea, visit her at www.facebook.com/mia.v.poetry

THE POET AS GARDNER; OR HOW TO GROW A POEM AT HOME IN 6 STEPS

1.

 

Select yourself a vessel 
something right-sized and inviting

(ceramic perhaps, or terracotta) 

pretty of color and plenty of room

 

Make yourself a space
Someplace cozy and uncluttered 
a window, god willing, and pillows aplenty

dependable desk chair, and copious light

 

Provide your poem with adequate air

a generous venue for growth

 

 

2. 

 

Cultivate the season’s soil

enrich this foundation with last season’s toil

Dare to dirty your beautiful nails

And turn up the earth with your hands

 

Permit yourself to dig

Go deep beneath your surface, it is worth it, I swear

so be patient, lay the groundwork now, 

and the grace will come in time

 

For if poetry is the food of love, then time
is the most important meal of the day  

 

 
3. 

 

Now choose what you will grow

flora, fruit, or even herbs – but hurry!

While your lungs are young and fertile

plant your garden; plant your seeds

 

these little insights everywhere!
Sprinkle or bury them in ink and on paper and 

you’ll thank yourself tomorrow

for the seeds you sow right now

 

Remember, your poem may grow to move mountains
and maybe the mountain is you


 

4. 

 

Nurture what you’ve made

Meet your seedling’s keenest needs:

thirsting for water, longing for light 

It needn’t take much, but the impact is vast

 

Tend tenderly yourself as well
for you also are worthy of nourishing

A little goes a long long way

drink water; take your meds

 

And when you cannot face the great white wall 

of blank pages, take a walk

 

 

5. 

 

Not all buds will blossom

not every branch will bear fruit

the most prudent among us keep pruning shears 
close to them, willing to cut what they must

 

This might just be the hardest part, love

to sever the things that don’t serve you 

that never deserved you, that stunt your growth

to do what you know is best for the both of you

 

Yes, kill your darlings, dear, just not all of them

and give them a beautiful wake

 

 

6. 

 

Reap the season’s yield

paltry or plentiful, sickle and scythe

with a tithe set aside for the ancients and old gods, 
and enough left to last through the cold, for the lucky ones

 

Bless the sweat of your brow

Exalt your aching bones, your calloused hands

Lay the glory of all of the fruits of your labor at table

with places for each of your friends for the feast

 

And tuck all their love into jars in your larder

kept safely to sow into poems come spring 

GRANDMOTHER SPRUCE

A tree fell in the woods, and I am six hundred years too late 
to hear the sound she made; but I have heard the spines 
of pine trees break enough times now to almost understand.

She watched six hundred hunter moons grow full, ripen and empty 
while she lay this way, with roots exposed, outstretched on forest floor
before a cone-kin found the hollow of her throat and sprouted.

The first of them to fall bore up the smaller: named herself ‘nurse’ 
and called the other ‘daughter’. Ring by ring, six hundred springs, 
the seedling grew, each root enfolding, holding on as sapling waxed

 

                  and mother waned, decayed; and all that remains
                    is a giant that stood on the back of the giant before her
                 and the space underneath where the nurse-ghost is; 

 

                          space just enough for one little poet to sit and play seed in,
                     to metaphor herself into the story, six centuries of spruce above, 

                                                                                         six hundred years too late. 

                     Six feet away stands my grandmother: half-ghost, snow-peaked, 
                            fingers laced behind her, eyes upturned like midday daisies,
                                                         smile uncurling like ferns. She turns to me:

                      barley moon, blooming, a cone of my own caught in my throat. 

                                    She says of the ancient pair, “I wonder which one I am,” 
                         and a twig snaps somewhere deep in the rings of my ribcage. 

 

                She is the giant who bore up the giant who bore me, 

              who bear up my own. She is a whole forest of old growth; 

             that is the size of the space she will leave when she’s gone.

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