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Tending

December 1, 2008

“Tending”

I turn back the bugs with bloodied fingers,
pierced by roses steeped in peelings.
They like the yellow skin, sallowing,
browning around their roots with the Chiquita
woman’s easy balance still branding them.

You taught me to throw my bananas’ skin
into the beds of hydrangeas, and roses,
to curl like roly-poly’s while the dog stood
at attention. She loved the corner of that grey-grained porch.

Momma, stand in shadow, now. I’ve missed you.
In a dream I planned to paint that yellow house
for you, with it’s lamppost-climbers, the pompoms
of pink mimosa bloom, the overgrown bradford pear,
and daddy on the wrought-iron bench,
smoking his thousand cigarettes.

I think always of his smell then, the sharpness
of Irish Spring, the hot sun, the musky tobacco
clinging around his red skin. He is the belly
into which I still turn my head, to hide,
when the world is cruel.

I pain myself to spare my plants, dipping
a horsehair brush into the tobacco juice,
painting each upturned leaf like they were biscuits,
butter-crowned and left in the oven.

In lonelier days, I’d hold the dough like flesh
against my flesh, and pray. Tobacco leaves
on the stove-top, sifting like tea, through the ruddied waters,
sweet as the river on summer days.

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