Reclamation by Julie Pratt


After years of neglect, I resurrected my garden,
digging out overgrown bushes, bringing light
to the shadows, so the peonies once again
greet me in spring with ruby blossoms.

I love watching what I imagined taking form,
surprising me as it does. Look – the cascade
of white petunias in dappled light as
the sun slips behind leaves of tall trees.

It’s an existential thing, a friend said this morning
about the discontent that consumes him,
pulling him into a dark ravine of the mind.
I know this place, too, of being trapped there

until I feel something in me shift, nearly
imperceptible, but enough to trust that I can
slash and crawl my way through almost any thicket
to a place where I stand and remember

powerlessness is the seed of liberation,
freeing me from what I want so I can recognize
what is true, a radical neutrality that
allows clarity and peace to return.


Julie Pratt lives in Charleston, West Virginia, where she worked for many years as a writer and facilitator for non-profit organizations. The author of several award-winning poems, her poetry has appeared in ONE ART, Passager, Persimmon Tree, and other venues. She grew up in Wisconsin, where she earned a master’s degree in social work from UW-Madison. Later in life, she received an MFA in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine. Her writing is inspired by nature and by people who are working to change themselves and the world for the better.

Two Poems by Julie Pratt

And Still They Came

rain and more rain
the wet whisper of
rubber on road
the river rising
and still they came

sea of umbrellas
bobbing below the dome
rain and more rain
washing away years of
their hard-won rights

and still they came
the young woman
with a sign: I’m here
to restore what my
grandmother fought for

stories upon stories
of resilience and grit
the river rising
breaching the bank
and still they came

defying all bounds
as lawmakers plotted
rain and more rain
they swelled onto
the streets of
every town



There will come a time when
you wake up and don’t curse the sun
for its cheerfulness.
You’ll make the bed again
like the stowed-away man you are.
You won’t admit it, but you’ll
look forward to cleaning out the garage
and building that new workbench.
And maybe the next week, you’ll work on
the story you abandoned because
you’d convinced yourself you weren’t a writer.
Perhaps you’ll find yourself calling
an old buddy, who is happy to hear
you want to golf again after you swore
your arthritis made it too hard to play.
Trust me on this – when the day comes that
you fear you’ve forgotten the sound of my voice
or the scent of my bodywash and you’re
startled by the attraction you feel toward
the woman checking your groceries,
you will pause and smile
because you’ll know in your soul
that mine rests on your happiness.

Julie Pratt is a poet, storyteller, photographer, hiker and gardener. Originally from Wisconsin, she has a graduate degree in social work from UW-Madison and worked for many years with nonprofit organizations. Later in life, she earned an MFA in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine. Her first published poem appeared in Persimmon Tree this spring and another is upcoming in Passager this fall. She lives with her partner in Charleston, West Virginia.