Two poems – Jennifer Balachandran

Jennifer Balachandran

Mortar and Pestle

with the stone fist pound
bleed the green release
camphor to air the sap of life
breathe it brighter than leaves
and done—
add olive oil to embalm


In a cabinet
under the kitchen sink
in a plastic bin
bedded under layers of newspaper,

we keep the worms
my girls call pets.

Every week we offer them our scraps—
the leavings of harvest
our modest garden plot provides—

ten foot square print
on a silty flood plain
neighboring the creek,
tilled with our labor,
where weeds eternally encroach.

Our worms feast on the decay—
they eat mold.

We use the castings for tilth—
to transform old soil,
make it new—
rich, black, and ready.
Seed it with bacteria,

so the invisible life
may be proven by roots’ growth
and thriving of leaves.

We keep the worms
close at hand to understand
and believe in this.

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