An Ordinary Life

Not uprooted, not hunger-drawn,
never transplanted from my homeland,

I thrive within my native confines,

as a longleaf pine’s armored bore
protects from fire and stores blood sap,
whose taproot mass drops anchor
beneath a grassy overstory—

told by my family so many times,
I’ve memorized even the smells
trade winds carried of their migration,
from their shore to mine—
fruitcake, from my German side,
roast beef and potatoes from my Irish—

when war or storm displaces
what we’ve earned in native soil,

we must revive our appetite for risk,

as memory fades, and we bank on spring,
while time, a careful surgeon,

debrides dead tissue from bole wounds,
forming a callus, allowing new growth

but hoped-for seedlings don’t arrive.
Some of us migrate to survive,

but my inner flow feeds me,

channels my ancestors’ endurance—
as I plant my feet, draw breath from toes
to gut, lungs to throat, all the way up,

claiming my brief space on earth,
like any native of this world.


Photo used under CC.

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About Author


Sarah Carey is a graduate of the Florida State University creative writing program. Her poems have appeared in several journals, including Carolina Quarterly, Rattle, Valparaiso Review, Potomac Review, Glass Poetry Journal, SWWIM Every Day, Rise Up Review, Palette Poetry and others. She is the author of one chapbook, The Heart Contracts, (2016, Finishing Line Press.) Her new chapbook, Accommodations, received the 2018 Concrete Wolf Chapbook Award and is forthcoming in late 2019. Sarah lives in Gainesville, Florida. Visit her at, or on Twitter @SayCarey1.

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