I was kneeling in my garden

when I saw him


He looked like a scarecrow,

standing in his small patch of corn,

with an upturned mouth and dusty clothes


Without words he raised one arm to me,

and I raised mine to him,

closing the silent space between two suburban farmers


A minute later,

he was right next to me

waving four slender ears of corn in front of my face


“I have to warn you,”

he said

“This corn was grown au naturel,

if you find creatures in there just scrape them off with a knife”


He went on to tell me about his wife,

how she used to be terrified of what she'd find under the husks:

wriggling little insects, sun shocked and groggy,

unaware of how soon they'd be stripped from their beds


She died one year ago


He promised to leave the corn on my porch

and turned to walk away


He had been standing on one of my plants,

my baby chard plant—only a few weeks old,

it was split at the stem,

and a leaf hung toward the ground

like an arm bent crooked at the elbow


I watched my neighbor walk away

with that corn laid tenderly in his arms,

and I realized then,

that sometimes it's okay,

to just let go of a small thing,

like a broken baby chard plant



Stephanie Amargi lives in Oregon with her husband and some house spiders. Her writing has appeared in Vector Magazine, Dogzplot, and 50 Word Stories. She writes about her love for food and literature at


This poem was about a memorable moment I shared with my neighbor, whose offer of the corn communicated a story to me. It brought me in to the world that he shared with his wife, who I never knew. His generosity, textured with sadness and love, made me look at the issue of the broken plant with whole new perspective. I went into my house after gardening, and sure enough, there was the corn sitting on a bench on my front porch. I ate it that night with gratitude.



Copyright 2009