Rebecca Schumejda

The Map of Our Garden

I laugh at the diagram you penciled on graph paper,
complete with precise measurements;
the location of fruits and vegetables color coded;
estimated hours of sunlight per day;
as well as a compass, a scale and a legend.

When I ask if you thought it possible to map love,
you tell me to stop asking stupid questions,
that’s when I plan to throw seeds like caution to wind,
let fate root where it will, demonstrate impermanency of maps,
the shifting of vegetation due to the human condition.

In the South corner, the fertility goddess, from Isla Mujeres,
squats precariously on invading Kentucky Blue Grass.
Caddy-corner, in manipulated feng-shui fashion,
your old cowboy boot serves as a makeshift planter,
the other boot, thrown away long ago “accidentally,”
will forever be a bone of contention between us.
Landmarks, not in your plans, appear mysteriously.

The sunflowers that line the rusty old shed and green beans,
that have not cut the surface, act as neatlines.
In between zucchini, summer squash, failed dreams,
cucumbers, the unsaid, peppers, tomatoes, bibb
and leaf lettuce grow zigzagged like convictions.

Tonight sandwiched between neighbors, who were born,
raised, and will die within this city’s limits,
I creep through the garden without a map, to catch fireflies
in a canning jar. You stand with our daughter plotting stars,
her finger shadows yours and I swear she whispers “Our Garden.”

From Falling Forward, sunnyoutside press
"A Mother’s Mantra"
for Liz Graziano

To hell with the dishes, the dust,
the dirt, the diapers, the drudgeries.

I sweep crumbs under carpets,
toss toys haphazardly out of view,
sniff-test the laundry to lighten the load
while dragging my teething daughter
behind me like a soapy mop.

I know I shouldn’t envy the man
who needs not abandon thought
to attend his crying infant, or ailing household;
who does not have to microwave his coffee
three times before taking one sip;
whose wardrobe is not Jackson Pollacked
with a colorful assortment of baby food.

But I do.

To hell with the dishes, the dust,
the dirt, the diapers, the drudgeries.

Last Easter eve, with my daughter
somersaulting inside me
like a Tibetan prayer flag releasing its mantra,
I tried to persuade a veteran mother
that our art does not have to suffer
because we are women.
Thank you for allowing me to remain disillusioned
for the last few months of my pregnancy.

About the Author

Rebecca Schumejda is the author of Cadillac Men (forthcoming from New York Quarterly books, 2012), From Sin to Seed (Bottle of Smoke Press, 2011), Falling Forward, a full-length collection of poems (sunnyoutside, 2009); The Map of Our Garden (verve bath, 2009); Dream Big Work Harder (sunnyoutside press 2006); The Tear Duct of the Storm (Green Bean Press, 2001); and the poem "Logic" on a postcard (sunnyoutside).

She received her MA in Poetics and Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and her BA in English and Creative Writing from SUNY New Paltz. She lives in New York's Hudson Valley and online at:

(click here to close this window)