Forsythia (For Portland, ME)

Fall means we rake the lawn,
stuff leaves into bags made from their trunks.
When filled, they look like
paper-pulp people, lined at attention in our backyard,
crisp and nutty.

The forsythia reaches over the top of my head now
like my little brother.
He cooked himself an egg this morning
and I thought: “I’m sorry; I remember the day you were born.”

My mom’s boss cut branches off her plant to establish our forsythia.
“Put them in water and they will put down roots.”
She spoke the truth.

Once planted, you cannot get the bush out of your landscaping.
She has put out tendrils in all directions,
a foster child eager to prove herself.

We go to the beach,
barefoot in the middle of October,
dogs running in time with the waves.
Put me in water and I will put down roots.
It is the truth.

Once planted, I cannot get myself out of this city.
I have put out tendrils in all directions,
a Maine child,
“from away” but eager to prove herself.

Salt covers the rocks in a fine-layer of sea-film,
preserving the city while I am gone.
Portland is a flavor I cannot stop craving
and even though I want to see everywhere
I want to come back here,
greet the lobsters that still live under my bed (never monsters),
ride the ferry boat to Peaks,
pile maple leaves,
take myself for a jump.

I walk the neighborhood,
see Bean Boots on every pair of feet,
We are all forsythia,
happy to have found soil
for our roots.


Jenna Rodrigues is a senior at Hartwick College, studying Biology. She is a storyteller, scientist, and advocate for social change. Follow her work at


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