“Self-Portrait as Coriander Seed” by Abby E. Murray

Abby E. Murray


Specifically, one of many coriander seeds
in an envelope my daughter bought at Lidl
using a pinch of her birthday money, which
is to say she is only nine, has no income
nor any right to vote in a country where
the leading cause of death for kids her age
is a bullet made by and for voting adults.
This morning, the newspaper shows
how the round of an assault rifle blooms
immediately when planted in the body
of a child—my child, for example, or yours,
the bullet a bit like a seed except this kind
only grows an irreversible, merciless absence.
See how I wrote those words and survived,
how you read them and lived? You and I,
we just keep getting smaller, more hardened.
Whatever hope we have left is crouched
within us, waiting to germinate. Are we not
also children being taught to hide until
we’re told we’re safe and pretend to believe it?
My daughter is still young enough to love me
unabashedly, as she loves cilantro, sowing
one of her first independent dreams beneath
a scrap of dirt in the center of the yard because
I wasn’t there to veto the spot she chose:
a slight rise where the mower cuts lowest,
its blade slicing so deep that not even dandelions
have been able to sprout roots there till now.
And I’m telling you, I’ll mow around that place
forever if it lets those seeds rise up, unfurling
as slow and beloved as they like, I’ll let the grass
grow wild, and the tiny violets too.

from Poets Respond
April 2, 2023


Abby E. Murray: “I wrote this while sitting outside my daughter’s school, waiting to pick her up from engineering club where they learn to make balloon-powered cars and popsicle-stick catapults in a world armed with steel and fire. All the children killed at a school in Tennessee this week were the same age as her. That morning, the Washington Post offered in-depth coverage of ‘The Blast Effect,’ or what happens inside a child’s body when an AR-15 round pierces it, because it is considered ‘critical to public knowledge,’ and I suppose they’re right. We, as a public, are being ignored by government officials who do not care how many times a day we’re forced to imagine our own children dying, or worse, experience it. We are being shown how to picture it more vividly, how to maintain ourselves as part of the problem. My own hope can sometimes feel small as a dry kernel; my daughter’s hope, which is expansive and certain, is what might save it.” (web)

Rattle Logo