from The Perfume of Leaving
Long after my grandmother died
I learned her language of growing things.
Lantana, aralia thrived under her touch.
She never sang, but I heard her urging
the hibiscus, the canna lilies,
Birds of Paradise so high
they thrashed the house during storms.
She never cried, never offered a shoulder
when I burbled into tears,
only glanced my way with a frown,
resumed swirling sauce, grating mozzarella.
Late afternoons, sunlight draped the lanai
before she tucked her curls into a latex cap,
settled into the pool when we wearied
of splashing around.
Weekdays, Grandma’s navy suit still crisp
when she returned those long Florida evenings
from a litany of hours transcribing,
she and daylight wandered among bursts
of flower pots topped with water,
shears ready to clip the strays.
My thumb doesn’t have her gift for green.
Longings don’t surge
through my fingers to touch seedlings
so they sprout, nurtured by a lifetime
of yearning that never spoke a word.