In the Garden

Among the ginger lilies and hibiscus,
rough pebbles and patches of grass—
But some kinds of food we could grow:
chayote hanging from curly vines
wound through a makeshift trellis,
clumps of mint that we could tear
and scatter over strips of sizzled
meat; mottled loquat and avocado,
fronds of salad fern. And water—
rationed three times a week: miserly
trickle to try the patience,
going through the rusted pipes.
We filled rows of old juice bottles,
plastic pails; but when it rained,
we gathered at least two extra drums.
Living was clumsy like this, in more
ways than one— mornings and nights,
the cold coming through thin walls
and windows, staunched by musty
piles of woven blankets. The way we
held our breath for as long as we could,
just to watch thin ribbons of vapor
uncoiling like snails as they left
the warm house of our mouths.


In response to Via Negativa: Blankets and small stone (219).

3 Replies to “In the Garden”

  1. Nostalgic about my lola’s chayote vines in the Baguio backyard. Yes, I can still see my breath coil out of my agape mouth as she toddled from plant to plant, herbs to herbs, etc, Life was clumsy then, but gentle. Like this, Luisa.

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