We stood, looking over

a fan of dry sticks


up from a muddy corner

in the back of the garden.


“Pull them out.

This plant’s dead,” she instructed.

I pleaded,

“Let’s prune instead.

Please. Wait.”

She handed me clippers.


In a few days,

love, water, and sunshine

transformed those sticks

into batons of leaves

and, finally,

fragrant flowers.


Late bloomers need more love.




Joan Leotta has been playing with words through writing and performing since childhood. Her “motto” is “encouraging words through pen and performance.” Her award-winning poetry, short stories, books, and articles have appeared in many journals, magazines, and newspapers. Joan recently completed a month as one of Tupelo Press’ 30/30 poets. She has work forthcoming in Knox Literary Magazine, and Eastern Iowa Review. She performs folklore and one-woman shows on historic figures in schools, libraries, museums, and at festivals. Joan lives in Calabash, North Carolina with her husband Joe. You can learn more about her work and reach her through www.joanleotta.wordpress.com. You can like her on Facebook here.