Haley Hendershot received her MFA in Creative Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her poetry has appeared in Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review. Currently, she is a dual enrollment English teacher for John Tyler Community College at James River High School. She lives in Richmond, Virginia.

Haley Hendershot

Peony Picnic at Tuckahoe Plantation


packed with folded pink layers

that hide a yellow powder

I know is there


wrinkled tissue paper

wet puppy tongue


dense bud afraid to bloom

in this week’s overcast drear


this must be what my womb is like


fragile stem holding a tight little ball

crawling with ants, I still cry

every month when I begin to bleed


Bear Creek Lake State Park

Our tent is surround by minivans

and short sleeping bags, stuffed animals

held captive indoors until today.

A game of tag expends a tiny

portion of endless energy. No need for a

jacket in Autumn air. They poke

the embers while their weak young arms try

not to drop hot dogs into the ash.


I wonder if they’ll step too close to the flame

and if they sleep side by side,

mom and dad on the outside edges for

warmth. Do they need backs patted

or hands held to fall asleep?


In the middle of the night, a tiny scream

Then soft voices lull all the tents back into dreams.


Our cooler has no juice or milk, just beer.