Solstice Alternative [Gianna Russo]

The beautyberry is vanishing
in the side yard, vulnerable
to Florida’s December,
the thermometer and science-based
lapses in climate.
Leaves droop, hot gray fetuses,
suspended. Branches poke up,
round out, transgendered,
purple-gemmed, but dwindling.
The soil is not soil
but sand, sans the entitlements
of minerals. Here: something’s waning.
Something’s fading.
Like the beautyberry.
Someplace else
creates a diversity
of solstices, longest nights, shortest days,
all of it evidence-based and pagan.


Gianna Russo is the author of Moonflower, winner of a Florida Book Award bronze medal and founding editor of YellowJacket Press ( and

Inspiration: As an organic gardener, I rely on science and evidence to help my plants thrive. A lifetime lover of the natural world, I got my inspiration by looking at the native beautyberry plant in my yard that has been slowly, mysteriously dying. Somehow, its death seems to mime the slow assault on truth we are witnessing. (By the way, in a similar instance, in 2015 our governor, Rick Scott, issued an edict that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection could not use the words “climate change” or “global warming” in official documents. Still can’t.)

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