when i was a girl
i believed
gardening was just

pulling dirt out
of the ground—soaking
the soil, until a pool

released mud into
my cupped hands.
i probably thought

i was helping
when i threw it
to the ground—thought

gardening felt   good
like the days

mom described—riding
bikes with over-alled
kids, through alleys

in el sereno—staying out
’til the streetlights came
on, coming home

to a meal—no one asking
where she’d been. dad
would say things    like

to catch a sandcrab, stick
your hand in the sand
after a wave passes—always

say   thank you
remember,   nothing good

after dark—and please
never turn your back
to the ocean.

the first time
a boy stuck his hands

inside me, i felt
like the ocean—

something containing
everything, giving

very little at a time
to the most insatiable

waves. i think about
the stories i’d share

with the daughter
i’m afraid to have—

how little
they could prepare her.


Hailey Gross is a poet and educator from Los Angeles. She’s a recipient of the Sarah B. Marsh-Rebelo Scholarship for Poetry and the Prebys Poetry Creative Writing Endowed Scholarship and is currently in her final year of the MFA Creative Writing program at San Diego State University. Her work can be found or is forthcoming in the Los Angeles Review, Laurel Review, and Harpur Palate.