TOMATOES & CUCUMBERS

Susan Smith Nash

 

 

The room is harsh, chlorine

soaking into our pores,

even into the tomatoes and cucumbers

I slice for you.Your napkin tucked close,

you say nothing, and

the narrative we all know by heart

remains unspoken.My eyes

search for you inside yourself.You are not here.

 

Where do I put crepe-myrtle, wild rose,

day-lilies, and backyard chrysanthemums

in my little card-file of memories?

 

I weeded the bean plants,

you swept under the wringers.

You oiled the push lawnmower,

I searched for four-leaf clovers

in the shade of the porch.

 

My mother bought you a dryer for winter.

You drew water for me in a claw-footed tub.

I listened to roosters crow

and the dawn train rattle down the tracks.

 

Magic and sadness.

Grandmother, grandchild.

 

I donít know why things are the way they are,

why I have to wear this façade of invulnerability,

why I grew out of my blue-gingham smocks, embroidered

with ducks, daisies, and deep blue sky,

and why youíre not here, even though

your hand pushes at the cucumber moons & tomato stars

I see floating on the delft blue plate.

 

Tonight the day fades all too slowly

accompanied by cicadas stuck in their husks

while figs burst open with seed and pulp.