Water the Mud: A Poem

Water the Mud

by Joel E. Jacobson

I once wanted to grow
an apple, so I buried one whole–
stem, hypantheum, ovule, and all.
A squirrel dug it up, chattered
over it until a snake bit and killed
it. A crow carried the snake away
and the apple rotted in the afternoon sun.

I once wanted to write a sestina,
so I picked my six words,
wrangled them with barbed wire
to the pattern they belonged to–
trust me, I knew where the words went
and the idea was definitive
like the the end of the rainbow–
and waited for the poem to sprout.

I told a friend about Jesus once,
I could see so clearly how he
could be saved from so much calamity
and his story became words to me
his life like an apple.

need water to grow
beyond the mud.

If mud is all we see,
they become laundry–
full of holes–
drowning on the washboard.


This poem is my response to the challenge from Books & Culture to write a poem about cultivation. As always, I invite you to respond and discuss.