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Pride+Poetry Featured Reader Series: Cailin Iverson

This week, we'll be posting poems from each of our featured readers headlining the New Cumberland Pride Pride+Poetry event. Join us Friday 7/22 at 6:30 outside the New Cumberland Library for an open mic followed by our main event. Check out the New Cumberland Pride Guide to find out all the awesome stuff going on Saturday at the first annual Pride Picnic!

Cailin Iverson received her MFA in Creative Writing & Publishing Arts from the University of Baltimore in 2014. She is a professional writer who actively fights against existential dread and lives for iced lattes and warm cookies. She spends her time with her husband, daughter, and three kitties in Southeastern Pennsylvania.


Black Thumb

I understood germination at five

as I nursed a marigold seed in a paper cup.

My grandfather dampened the paper towel ground

and we watched it sprout, twisting as it grew, reaching

for stained-glass birds that hung in the window.

We all basked in the morning sun, he sipping coffee,

deciphering loon calls from the lake out back.

His collie puppy nipping at my heels,

but I will not be herded.

After breakfast, my grandfather watered his garden of rhubarb

with an eighty-year ease, a slight lean

from his fake leg—I understood amputation, too,

though the story always changed. First, a blizzard

that broke down the car, he walking in knee-deep snow.

Then, his drinking. His temper. His diabetes.

We all have poor circulation. Poor hearts. Poor judgement.

Poor emotional availability.

Except when it comes to plants—they all have avid green thumbs,

a family gene I must have missed

because the marigold never bloomed. Bouquets never last.

Succulents never thrive. And ferns always wilt.

Only bleeding hearts


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