“Mint in Pots” by Ann Wuehler

Ekphrastic Challenge, August 2017: Editor’s Choice


Street Folks by Jennifer O'Neill Pickering

Image: “Street Folks” by Jennifer O’Neill Pickering. “Mint in Pots” was written by Ann Wuehler for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, August 2017, and selected as the Editor’s Choice.

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Ann Wuehler


Your brain is full of worms, he said.
I no longer wish to drink stardust coffee
from your stinking bones.
That’s fine, she said.
I grew mint in pots in the window
trying to please you
and I folded some of your shirts
until my fingers got tired
and my eyes
went to a dead fly in the windowsill.
Were we ever in love, he asked.
What mint? You never grew mint,
how you lie
about the little things
to make me feel guilty.
Maybe it was basil or lavender
or chives, it was something
in a little red pot
with dirt
that smelled like fried potatoes.
You see, he tapped her arm
and lifted his face to the morning.
You tell stories about me
and put in snips
to martyr yourself.
I let you talk, she said.
I don’t need to burn at a stake for you, my dear.
I remember mint.
I don’t remember loving you this morning,
but I remember the mint.
The mint as real as my hat,
you a ghost
sitting beside me
trying to make me doubt.
Now I am a ghost, he said
and he laughed.
She put her back to him,
and smiled.
I am not afraid, she said,
of ghosts.
They are lovely little monsters
to hang from the hooks in my brain
and they grow so well
when planted with mint
in a little pot
in a sunny window.
Ah, he rose to his feet.
I shall like making love
to mint and dirt and sunshine.
And napping all day.
I’m so glad, she kept smiling,
her tiny stars and ashes smile.
Love dies, they were wrong about
love, he replied
and she nodded her head,
she nodded her head
and had nothing else
to tell him just then.

from Ekphrastic Challenge, August 2017
Editor’s Choice


Comment from the editor on this selection: “I can’t remember the last time I’ve been so captivated by the dialogue in a poem. ‘Mint in Pots’ reads like a Hemingway short story, full of great lines by two great characters, and that was even more refreshing than mint in a pot.”

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