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Picking Flowers

Bella McCauley

I ran around her backyard 

That was covered with flowers and trees 

Behind her small brick house filled with cats and souvenirs. 

We came over for the day, 

From Rome, from a little North, 

And she smiled at me with my father 

As the breeze blew, using its breath 

To shift the leaves and petals, 

Create a draft through her sunroom door. 

We spoke about the plant types, 

The pretty flowers of the bed beside her driveway, 

But then she went back inside. I could feel the starch 

Of her den before coming inside, and her warm embrace 

When she asked, How are you doing? 

I couldn’t tell her anything, 

Not about how I lost my interest in reading, 

Or how I started questioning a faith that had been mine just because it was all around me, 

A belief now as weak and fragile as the woman herself. 

She reached a shaky hand towards me 

And hugged 

Her uncomfortable granddaughter; 

The baby-powder texture of her palm 

Remained on my hand when talking to me 

The way she rested a hand on her favorite cat when the cat began sleeping, 

Gentle and caring, 

And I wanted to tell her 

I was afraid of her leaving, 

That I miss running around in her backyard, 

Questioning every little thing. 

I wanted to tell her 

That I never stopped trying to plant that one flower, 

That I wish I could come over more, 

That I miss when she left the house to do things. 

I couldn’t tell her 

How every time I leave I need to say 

I love you three times, 

Because what if she leaves, what if she stops remembering, 

And what if she stops remembering the giant green chair 

Or the little dog in the woods, and I’m still somehow 

Forgetting that she forgets. 

I said, I’m good, how are you? 

We sat in the living room in uncomfortable conversation 

And when my brother came into the room, 

not as good at masking his unease, 

My grandmother said 

How are you? 

Spring 2024

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