“Walking Iris” And Other Reader-Submitted Poems
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.
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.
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.