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Pilgrims, a poem by Joel Showalter


The old zinnias sway in 
the garden bed, shoulders 

hunched and heads bowed, 
their bright garments tattered 

and stained from wear, as 
the sun shifts its sleepy gaze

over the front yard. Still, 
every flower is gamely doing 

its job, gathering the light 
and casting it up at our faces. 

Who minds a missing petal
like a broken tooth, or a brown

smudge amid the gold? 
Certainly not the bee, who 

nuzzles every blossom, who
blesses each splayed and faded 

circlet, each discolored array,
clasping the hands that are

raised to her as she moves,
saint-like, among them, 

humming imperceptibly
as she goes. 

Joel Showalter, no longer a Hoosier by residence, has deep ties to Indiana. He was born in Marion and spent the first 24 years of his life in that part of the state. He received his bachelor’s degree in English and writing from Indiana Wesleyan University. His work has been published or is forthcoming in The Carolina Quarterly, December, Delmarva Review, Mud Season Review, and The Christian Century. He works as editorial director at a marketing agency in Columbus, Ohio.