Salome Magazine
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LAce Posted Monday, April 14th, 2003
Planting Bulbs
Michelle Mandolia

I crouch low, near the dirt.
We’ve placed the bulbs in three rows. I pick one up,
say “here,” and point to the space I’ve left.
Then I lean away.

My father heaves the pick-axe. It rises
as a whale might heave itself from the sea,
arc back, and fall, its mass
splitting the ocean into a momentary hole.
I slip the bulb in.

The work would tire anyone,
but my father’s heavy breaths remind me
of the palm full of pills he takes each day,
the stent in his heart that keeps that one artery open.

I never wonder about the axe,
about the ability of my father’s aged arms.
Each swing creates one perfect new hole among the rows.
Otherwise, he’d stop.
I know this about him.

I wonder what he knows about me.
That on this day, crouched beside him,
I feel broken, dug into.
He suspects. He asks “how are you?”
instead of “how is work?”
and hugs me for longer than usual.

I do not tell him more,
how much I needed to trust something.
We work this way through the rows,
he with his fragile heart and me with mine,
leaving an unseen trail.

Comments [post a comment]

Posted by Elizabeth Bradford on Wednesday, April 16th, 2003 at 10:56 AM
Michelle, This is so me tears in my eyes.

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