SWWIM publishes, celebrates, & promotes women, women-identifying & Femme-presenting writers through a Miami-based reading series & the online poetry journal SWWIM Every Day.

Homestead by April Nelson


Looking back, we were all so earnest,

gathering for our monthly potlucks

of rice and beans and lumpy breads.


Squatting in the cold March mud

to thumb in the broccoli, our breath

small clouds hanging in the damp, chill air.


And the knitting! My god, the knitting!

We did it endlessly, when we weren’t

spinning the wool, or the honey. Sweaters

and shawls and gloves and hats: small wonder

we didn’t clothe the sheep themselves in wool wraps.


The chickens, the pigs.

The chickweed, the pigweed.

Hauling the slops to the pigs, the pigs

to the butcher, the pork chops to the freezer.

It never stopped.


What was it then, that changed? What was it that made us say

“that’s enough,” and scrub our hands raw at the sink

until every trace of soil was gone from under our nails?


It wasn’t the goodness of the first tomato of summer

or the soft down of the chicks

that did us in. Heaven knows those were gifts,

plain and simple.

It was something more basic.

One mud-tracked rug too many,

another torn fingernail,

too many five grain casseroles and no desserts at the potluck.


Something as little as that.


We sold off

the chickens, the tiller. Gave up the lease and

moved back to the rhythm and hum of the city.

Never looked back, never kept track of the cost,

plus or minus. What good would have come of that?

Nothing but heartache and some tallies on a sheet of paper.


No, better to leave that door closed: the knitting unfinished, the herbs gone wild,

the heart gone to seed.



April Nelson had her poetry accepted for publication in The Young Voice (Ashland Poetry Press, 1974). She then pursued other paths before returning to writing. Her poem, “The Jew In The Pew,” was published in Rise Up Review in May 2017. She writes a monthly column in The Myeloma Beacon and is a founding member of a local poetry writing club, originally known as the Death and Dying Poetry Club.


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