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Emily Patterson

Emily Patterson is the author of So Much Tending Remains (Kelsay Books, 2022) and To Bend and Braid (forthcoming in 2023). She received her B.A. in English from Ohio Wesleyan University, where she was awarded the Marie Drennan Prize for Poetry, and her M.A. in Education from The Ohio State University. Emily’s work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and appears or is forthcoming in Rust + Moth, SWWIM, Minerva Rising Press, Mom Egg Review, The Sunlight Press, and elsewhere.

To My Daughter in the Living Room, Dancing

I’ve never been good at it—
the dancing or the surrender,

but you are insistent: curls
stretched to wild waves

that stream behind your blur
of a body, shrieks clear

as the cold rain making rivers
on the window, where surely

the neighbors spot me swaying,
grinning at you below the pane.

We dance anyway—hands joined
to twirl with reckless delight,

and I think of how my mother
once said that joy is more

powerful than sorrow. How
I didn’t believe her. And yet.

Unharvested, or After Quarantine, We Go Out into Marigold Light

in search of zinnias, faded to pink,
the last bouquet of emerald peppers.

Summer squash rotted and frozen,
pale skin crusted with ice. You say:

Let’s see what we see, leading me
on thin paths crowded by dried dill,

your wonder gracing everything—
especially the pumpkins that will

never grow, green as summer,
palm-sized and already dying.

Your cough is muffled by the open
world. I can smell the air again.

I try to exhale the fears that have
flourished alongside you since

before you touched the earth.
I say it like a prayer that won’t

sink in, like frost on the surface
of things: One breath, another.

These fruits don’t need to be harvested.


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