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2 Poems by Aby Ray


A friend returned from Japan and described

how when new plants are to be added

in a garden, care is taken to both

nurture the new addition

and protect the existing

interconnected life around it.

Nemawashi,, it is called, sometimes translated

as “laying the groundwork,” but this is

really much more intricate; each root lovingly unearthed, seen bare, needs and direction


then a plan formed that includes its well-being,

avoiding amputations by spade,

starvation and thirst from

heedless prioritizing of the new shrub,

or erosion when the soil itself is no longer held


Let me live, each one says,

and the gardener answers

I want more than that for you.


Twinkle lights ascend treetrunks

all turns to pumpkin spice

death of many colors falls

and makes sidewalks look nice.

I haven’t felt myself in months

reactive, scattered, blown

branch to branch but none are mine,

lost touch where I had grown.

But layered with decaying mulch,

I find a place to sleep

among more still, once-floating leaves,

this concrete ours to keep.

So kiss me here, my tender love

among the muck and rot

we’ll sleep away the winter; then

in spring we’ll be forgot.


Aby Ray is a queer mom, surrogate, advocate, and weirdo who grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area on poetry ‘zines and blackberries right off the bramble.  She stuck around, got a day job and some dependents, and keeps trying to find the good life and the right words.  Her poems have been published in Moist Poetry Journal, Barzakh, Dipity, and on lampposts around her neighborhood. She feels limerick battles should be used to settle disputes more often! Follow on Instagram @aby._ray and Twitter @AbyRay314.

EDITOR'S SONG PAIRING:  Haley — LANY - ILYSB (Stripped)- Layered 3x


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