This poetry collection was reader-submitted for our Summer Essay Series on themes of growth, aging, transformation, and renewal.

By Holly Monroe

When I had first awakened 

The Earth bestowed upon me a gift 

A magic so luxurious and fine 

It was said that I glowed from within, 

like a fairy light on Summer’s doorstep 

This magic was many things; 

a willow crown and the songs I sang with Astraeus 

It was a peaceful pride and a grateful freedom 

It was faith in the girl I had been and the one I would become

I keep it safe 

in the aria of doves that coo with the longing of my sunset heart 

And often feel its warmth with a nostalgia that is new 

It reminds me of my strength when I feel fragile 

It reminds me that I belong to each gemstone raindrop, 

tender petal, and searing barefooted step on sun baked slate 

Even when I have no desire to belong to myself 

With each new day that becomes my past 

I uphold my vows to embrace and savor 

So that I may return to her household 

Of golden light and onyx shadow 

A wise and fruitful queen 

Glad to repay and replenish every favor


Holly Monroe is an artist, writer, educator and pastry chef from Long Island, NY. She was born to be creative, to always be learning and fighting for what is true and good and beautiful in this world. She is obsessed with fantasy fiction novels, all hues of teal, and the magic that is present in everyday life. She evokes inspiration from mythology, natural dualities, and personal experience.

Green Figs
By Emily Nicholson

I once had a fig tree that couldn’t

Bear even one ripened fruit.

Immature figs always fell to the ground;

The problem, you see, was its roots.

If you would have been there beside me,

Combing your hands through the dirt,

You’d have seen roots reaching out and away

Instead of down, into the earth.

But roots grow towards where they find water;

My tree’s roots laid where they did,

For the soil rejected its water—

Like oil, never let it sink in.

I thought of my tree just this morning

At the green age of twenty-three.

I, too, know how fruitless it feels growing

With roots not but two inches deep.

By Emily Nicholson

Each day she reaches farther,

Craning her neck to the window,

Thirsty for the morning light.

One day I turned her 

To face me instead.

Not two days had passed

Before she’d bent herself backward,

Again towards the window,

Again towards the sun.

I could do this for weeks—

Turning her to face me,

Her reaching back.

She and I are alike in this way,

Only everything in her longs for the light

And everything in me, for you.


Emily Nicholson is originally from Kansas City but has spent her twenties living all over the world. Most recently, she was in Florence, Italy getting her Masters in Sustainable Fashion. She currently works for a regenerative materials lab and calls San Francisco home. You can find more of her writing on Instagram.

Walking Iris
By Kelli Simpson

A walking iris yields one flower

at a time; one purple and chocolate

brown heart waving a white 

flag of surrender

until the exhausted peduncle

can’t bear the weight of the new

growth and drops to the ground,

allowing the child it carries

to take root and run.

Silver streaks my hair,

my shoulders stoop,

and each morning I wake

a day closer to metaphor.

I bloomed one brilliant blossom.

Now, the ground rushes toward me.

Child, take root and run.


Kelli Simpson was born and raised in Oklahoma. A poet and former teacher, she is passionate about the written word. Kelli’s work has appeared in numerous literary journals, and she was the winner of the 2021 Poetry Super Highway poetry contest.


Featured image includes model Norrine Maupin wearing dress by Shaina Mote; jewelry by Apse