Espaliered tree


            Each morning, after that first cup of coffee, she navigates the narrow porch stairs, her knees creaking like the steps, and she goes to her garden.
            For ten years, her memories of Francis have grown, as has her garden.  She kneels in the rows while the morning is cool, plucks crabgrass and bindweed, vines and tree sprouts.  She pinches the tomatoes to force their fruit.  She props up peppers, snips the flowering heads from the basil.  She picks her lunch—green beans, beets, chard and a green onion for a salad.  She waters, and, satisfied, takes the vegetables inside.  She pours a second cup of coffee.  She sits at her spot in the breakfast nook, the finch feeder out the window already lively with yellow and red fluttering, the chair opposite her, his chair, empty these ten years.  Still, he is with her.
            For sixty years she took care of him.  Nurtured him after the war, helped him blossom, kept his shirts and suits clean and lined in rows in the closet, his socks stuffed in matching shoes.  And he bore fruit, selling car after car, starting his own dealership, making more money than the two of them could ever dream of or spend.
            Each year, frost takes her garden, the leaves of all her plants crisp under shimmering ice.  They are beautiful in this funeral moment, still green, still stiff, still holding their shape.
            Soon, they wilt and blacken, and after a proper time she plucks them from the earth, turns them into the soil and stays inside for the winter, another hard one if she can believe the Almanac.  The finch feeder rocks back and forth like a pendulum.  She waits.

"Frost" first appeared in Blue Island Review, and inspired a painting by Jennifer Rivera in her "Art After Words" exhibit





Artichoke symbol


Winter onion

Rose etched in tombstone

Dead potted plant


Willow tree


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