This time

Last year

He knelt beside me,

rolling one from the starter tray like I would roll my comfortable thumbs

over his knees when we drank coffee

on summer mornings.


We dug in together, both smeared with the compost-stinking soil

from the plants before that had stained our jeans,

muddied our faces.



marigolds bushed—yellower than the summer squash blooms—

20 to a single plant, and their fruiting neighbors

Couldn’t even escape the rabbits.


I remember his uprooting the woody scrags

A few months later

when the flowers wrinkled into clots and dropped—

a few weeks before he left—

Tossing them behind the shed

With other remnants of once-beautiful things.


The worms churned the barren raised-bed for weeks.

Then, I saw them—green blades spearing the damp dirt—

Growing back.

I scraped them all from the garden.

Hurled them away.

“Not yet!” I cried after them.


But I’ve never begged something that listened.


I saw one today,

Thumb-sized, hiding under the cherry tomatoes I eventually planted

When the soil’s rawness ebbed.

It found its way to the water,

Was holding its one red bloom like an arrow

Under a new, green tomato testing its weight.


I let it be all summer.

You cannot remove something that demands to be present.


And, I imagined, it made the new tomatoes taste sweeter.