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abbie kiefer / poem

How Amytis Spends Her Days

Counting quince 

before they ripen. Weaving

among the young willows, lissome

and already pouring

themselves over. Thumbing the cottoned clumps

of licorice, each plentied stem endeavoring

away. Murmuring for her own ears

the once-exotic: cedar, cypress, myrrh, 

ash. Babylon’s exquisite exiles

in every tiered terrace. This is a solace

garden, groomed green as her homeland. Held close 

by the city of her queening 

held by moat and doubled walls. Work 

of the constructor king who knows not

weariness. This is how she spends her days: bearing

the fig so to also cradle 

its wasp. Palming the olives 

before brine steals their bitter. Following 

the water as it slips toward the grapevines. Water

has no home. The vines want

only to ascend. Of tree or trellis,

they’ll make a tower.

Some grapes ache

with abundance. Split their own skins.


Abbie Kiefer's work is forthcoming or has appeared in Boulevard, The Cincinnati Review, Copper Nickel, Ploughshares, RHINO, The Southern Review, and other places. She has twice been a semifinalist for the 92Y Discovery Prize and volunteers as a reader for The Adroit Journal. Find her online at

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