Image by Paweł Czerwiński


When threatened, starfish
drop their arms like penny wishes.
It’s enough to make you sick,
when you think about all the work
it takes to make a body.
The breath and press of it. Divisions

and divisions. I used to sever earthworms
at their midpoint, to help them multiply.
Opportunity is not the same
as permission, even when you’re trying
to make something grow.
My grandmother’s garden bloomed

like blood in water. She told me
never to mistake a shadow
for the absence of light,
that God put weeds into the earth
to test the strength of our arms.
She told me to keep my legs crossed

and watch my mouth.
It doesn’t matter what I tell you now,
or how I tell it. You can’t hear people

with mouths like mine.  

Steph Sundermann-Zinger.jpg

Steph Sundermann-Zinger

 is the Associate Director of Enrollment Marketing at Towson University and a student in the Creative Writing and Publishing Arts MFA program at the University of Baltimore. When she's not in the office or the classroom, she spends her time in joyful, messy coexistence with her wife, their two children, and numerous pets.