Death of a Houseplant by Tobias Maxwell

I watered you for 34 years,

Repotted and trimmed your leaves,

Fed you fertilizer and let the sun

Have its way with you all day long.


You spent winters indoors and summers

In Los Angeles on my balcony.

You adapted to Canadian winters

By relinquishing half your soul.


Gifted to me as a cutting,

You taught me patience and hope,

When not to water too much or too little,

To only worry when it was warranted.


Two days ago, all your foliage dropped dead

Molted like I’d done something terribly wrong.

When I came to repot you I discovered mush

Where the mystery of roots should have been thriving.


What can you say about the death of a houseplant?

An inanimate, lush green object

That lived and breathed my air and brought

Richness in my life. Must find the word.
Photo by Ylanite Koppens on

About the Poet:

Tobias Maxwell is the author of three novels, The Month After SeptemberThomas, and The Sex and Dope Show Saga; a novella, And Baby Makes Two; four memoirs, Naked Ink, Diary of a Smalltown Boy, Vol. 1 & 21973—Early Applause, 1977—The Year of Leaving Monsieur, and 1983—The Unknown Season; as well as a poetry collection, Homogium

5 thoughts on “Death of a Houseplant by Tobias Maxwell

Add yours

  1. Thirty -four years !! What an accomplishment , your little plant had a good life . I love your poem . Tobias , I could sense your sadness …sending you a big hug . Your cuz Monique

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Was the problem over-watering and/or poor drainage? It sounds like the roots needed a considerable drying out. Also, was it receiving the right amount of light? Anyway, plants have souls and singing to them also helps.


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