On a recent Saturday in December, 100-plus people from all over the state gathered at Space Gallery in Portland to celebrate the publication of “Balancing Act 2: An Anthology of Poems by Fifty Maine Women” by Littoral Books. It’s been 43 years since the first “Balancing Act” was published, and, gathered together in that room, it seemed like a perfect time for a second edition.

Late in the ceremony, Governor-elect Janet Mills – who herself had poems in the first “Balancing Act” – showed up and spoke to the rapt crowd about the importance of poetry.

This week’s poem was awarded a prize by the anthology’s editors, and, near the turn of the year, it seems like a perfect time for this poem about the will of a mother and the hope of a child amid all kinds of chaos.

Shana Genre grew up in North Berwick and graduated from the University of Maine at Farmington. She lives with her husband and two children in Portland, where she teaches at Deering High School.

The Seed

By Shana Genre

At first it is only a pea

a rumor of life

and then it is a grape,

a plum, a ripe persimmon.


And then at twenty weeks

they say it is a baby boy

I don’t believe them

until I feel his limbs


as I carry laundry to the basement.


But I already have a panther

winding around my legs.

She slinks around our savanna,

a shadow among the vines,

her yellow eyes watching.

She is wild and will attack

prey in flight.


And I already have a wolf

he thinks I am his mother

he watches for intruders

and follows me from room to room;

he is circling my husband

and me, herding us.


And the grounds are overrun

with skunks and possums

digging up the grasses

and stealing summer’s harvest.


What I know is wild things.


And still, there is this child

everyone wants to know.

They want to buy little shirts,

little pants, little shoes –

but what I know

is that the mice in the walls

are trying to steal

this crumbling plantation from me.

Worms are carving mazes

in the hearts of the corn stalks

and I have to fight back


before this seed becomes

an apple, a watermelon,

a rumor no more –

a sweet soft domestic thing –

a child.

Gibson Fay-LeBlanc is poet who lives in Portland. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2018 Shana Genre. It appeared originally in “Balancing Act 2” (Littoral Books, 2018) and appears here by permission of the author. For an archive of all the poems that have appeared in this column, go to www.pressherald.com/tag/deep-water.

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