Growing Things

Growing Things

Alexis Perno

my mother’s favorite color is 


a color so dark, it’s forest blood that bathes wet soil 

a color so bright, the stem outshines the petals of a sunflower 


my mother  

has always been the color of growing things, 

but when I was little  

it was my biggest dream for her to fit inside the hot pink mold of the popular mothers 

platinum blonde  


red kate spade bags that gleamed against tory burch sandals 


perfectly curled at 6 in the morning as they dropped off their kids at school 

parking black Jaguars 

and giving their fourth graders iPhones  


my mother  

is the color of growing things  

and she was happiest when she drove her black stallion of a hummer  

she dropped me off in pajamas with unwashed hair  

not blonde enough 

not brown enough  

not pretty enough for my elementary school self  


my mother 

never failed to walk my brother and I to school  

my feet  

pounding on sidewalk to keep up with my mother’s 

adorned in her favorite pair of blue beat up sneaks and off brand athletic shorts 


I forgot 

the warmth  

of the sun  

I mean her  



I never forgot the stares of passing children 

decked out 

with mile high bows atop their pretty heads 

the nicest pair of sneakers on their tiny feet 

wide eyes looking at my mother 

she is the color of growing things  

but to them  

she was the weird mom of the weird kid and to this day  

I still feel guilty  


guilty for every morning she slapped up unbrushed curly hair into a ponytail  

and how I felt coils of hot embarrassment curl up my sleeves in return  

because my mother is the color of growing things,  

a wildflower in the most prized of gardens up for an award  

they don’t take kindly to free spirits there 

she grows at her own pace with her own petals  

and I blamed her for me not fitting in 


I screamed at her once  

tears dampening the soil  

why can’t you just be like Them? 

she asked me 


why do you want  

to be like Them? 


my Mother  

wears paint-stained arms with just as much pride as her flour-stained shirts 

she complains about her chubby cheeks and round face  

but she doesn’t see the way they crinkle when a laugh falls from her lips 

she complains about the freckles and moles dappled onto her skin  

she doesn’t see how sunrays kiss them  

how when I noticed my own stars littered across my nose  

I thought I looked like  

my Mother  

and I felt  



because my Mother is the color of life itself  

she is the rawest form of human emotion  

she is a volcano  

because even when she blows up  

she still finds ways to create growth from the ashes  


when everything burns, it gives us the chance to rebuild  

and my Mother taught me how to survive even when surrounded by dirt  

she is the lotus flower, blossoming in muddy water  

she is the flash of green just before the sun sinks below the ocean  


I don’t share my poetry with my Mother but 

she is always willing to listen  

I don’t say I love her as often as I feel it 


there will be a day I’ll be able to tell her everything  

I will work so it’s not the day she’s gone  

body in the embrace of the earth  

a flower returned to her home 


my Mom  

makes me understand why the earth  

is called a mother  


so to her,  


Green like no other  

thank you.