Ascension Day Planting, North Philly: Runner Up, Sandy Crimmins Poetry Prize

           “God does what she wants.

            She has very large tractors.”

            – Robert Bly

It is the first time Jesús has planted, and

his haircut is on backwards.  His eyes are

little birds, hinged at the wings.  His hands

spend their days combating eagerness.

Give him a shovel.  Give a boy with poking eyes

an extra hand to carve his name in dirt.

Some boy’s house fell into its own pit here

and made hole-homes for rat-friends,

for pawned treasures and secrets that never

got redeemed.  Jesús can make time with a shovel.

Make it march backward.  Stand on its head.

Do tricks.  Blink back nobodies.  Earth is a bag

to hold heaven, and Jesús is a hole’s best friend.

Big sister Milly (one leg over the fence into babies,

the other still in diapers), hands him a tomato

with its web roots of tiny feathers.  It is a small

bird fallen out of heaven.  It is a troubling

miracle, that rests a moment in Jesús’ palm,

cupped between the thumb and the dirty nails,

until his knee bends, his hands

swoop down, and his fingers

release it to freshly drug earth.


Patrick Cabello Hansel has published poems, stories and essays in over 30 anthologies and journals, including Hawai’i Pacific Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, subprimal, The Ilanot Review, Ash and Bones, Switchbackand Lunch Ticket. His poem “Quitting Time” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His novella Searching was serialized in 33 issues of The Alley News.