Reader Submission: Growing

Cover image by Emily Bourne. Instagram: @floteren
[Image description: A painting of a girl looking down, with her hands resting on her face.]

Reader submission by Katherine Wei.


My body is an ugly garden,
Full of wild thorns and absent of red roses.
White hon shimeji mushroom germinate out of my face
And hectic weeds sprout out of my head.
My legs are two large and immobile tree stumps,
Peppered in green and blue lichen.
Unfurling from the sides of my head
are my wrinkled flower petal ears.

Despite all the ugly, I am still full of life.
Weeds twist and grow, both left and right.
The roots of my feet are grounded and sprouting.
I stretch and stretch, out into the sun,
Hoping to flourish and glow like the pretty gardens do.

My body is an ugly garden,
Lacking of tomatoes and fresh fruit.
No one wants to harvest my hideous plants,
So, all I do is just sit and grow.
My buds are gradually blooming
And my stem is becoming strong and stiff.
Even though no one may want me,

I will always still be full of life.

As hard as I try, the pretty ones win,
Since they have all the attention and beauty,
While all I have is life.
Everyone only wants for color and size,
I am thus left alone with my unpleasant mess.

My body is an ugly garden,
That is wilting away without light.
Poppies, dandelions, sunflowers, all dead.
Grotesque mold and fungi eat my insides out.
Dark vines strangle me in their misshapen leaves.
My garden shrivels up into a gray newspaper,
As its parts float down, becoming the earth
My garden is drained of its life.

My demise gains no awareness
And all that was left of my life has given up.
Because as the pretty ones become prettier,
The ugly ones only become uglier.
And still, nobody ever wants an ugly garden.

My body that was an ugly garden,
Was once full of life,

Packed with the appalling, distasteful,
And all unnatural aspects of life.
Before the world taught me to hate it,
I had only thought of helping it grow.
Now that it’s gone, I wish I had known
Growth was a one-man job.

But who cares about the rules?
Even though I am ugly,
I still have some life within me.
So up I must go.
In spite of the environment,
The world, and the rules.
I am persisting
I am growing.


Growing is a poem about understanding and accepting beauty. The poem compares an ugly garden to a common perception of one's body image, unappreciated and loathed. In the end of the poem, despite being beaten down by the merciless environment (which is a comparison to societal pressures), the garden endures and continues to grow.