She grows bristlecone pines
as house plants, drops little seeds
into paper cups with harsh soil
from Sierra mountainside,
sunburnt seedlings frosted,
parched, neglected for weeks
fitting nature’s plan,
her windowsill a forest
growing with the speed
Her bedroom is cramped.
She sleeps by the door.
Her love is prickly, remembers
wooly mammoths, survived asteroids.
She gets angry when I suggest orchids.
The landlord wants her out,
wants to build condos, turns up
In cups her love grows
for grandchildren to transplant
to faraway years, unfriendly soil,
to ever struggle, never thrive.
Please, may they survive.
by Joe Cottonwood, first appeared in Amsterdam Quarterly
Editor’s Note: This poem’s extended metaphor perfectly describes the person who inhabits these lines with bristling individuality.