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Best-Laid Plants
Marne Wilson


Digging through my mother’s drawer of cast-off seeds,
I looked for flowers to plant in an old water tank.
She had given up on these varieties,
but I could not turn my back on their potential.
Early on the morning of the perfect planting day,
while the dew was on the grass
and the mourning doves were calling,
I took up my miniature implements
and plowed my tiny field
just as my father worked his larger one.
My fingers were the drill,
planting each kind of seed in a perfect row.
Last I played God,
sending a gentle shower of rain from above,
not forgetting to make the rainbow in the end.
Yet even with all this care, disaster struck.
Baby’s breath came up everywhere,
bursting out of its own row
and smothering the feeble plants
that straggled out from tired seeds.
By the end of the summer,
a snowdrift of white blossoms
tumbled from the tank
and over the edge to the lawn below.
To me this was a failure,
but strangers congratulated me
on my unrestrained abundance.

From The Bovine Daycare Center (Finishing Line Press, 2015).
Used here with permission.


Marne Wilson grew up on a farm in North Dakota and now lives in Parkersburg, West Virginia. She previously worked as an academic librarian. Marne’s poems have appeared in many journals; she is the author of The Bovine Daycare Center (Finishing Line Press) and As Lovers Always Do, forthcoming from Etchings Press. Learn more about her at



Post New Comment:
michael escoubas:
Great seasonal post Jayne, reminds me of planting petunias in an old tractor tire with one of my grandsons. His little fingers were drills just like in today's poem. Congratulations on YDP's tenth anniversary. When you took one of my poems some years ago the house couldn't hold my pride!!Let's hear it for decade #2!!
Posted 06/01/2019 03:58 PM
Lovely image, almost funny contrast between what the young poet expected and what she got!
Posted 06/01/2019 03:24 PM
Aww...I can imagine the disappointment, but also the wonderful results!
Posted 06/01/2019 02:41 PM
I enjoyed seeing "morning" and "mourning"so close together and the tumbling of the Baby's breath from the old water tank.
Posted 06/01/2019 09:09 AM

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