Bio Note: I spent thirty years happily teaching English in the hood just outside Los Angeles. I retired just before Covid hit and now live happily under desert sun in Tucson. I was published in Prairie Schooner in 2007 and have two poems upcoming in Amethyst Review. I fill my house with art, owls, and angels.
This is Why Her Garden Grows
After the Eleven O’clock news my sister enters her kitchen, dons knee pads sprays herself with Deep Woods Off grabs the flashlight, the dustbuster. She says she has to dustbust the garden each and every night or the earwigs and black beetles will eat everything and the best garden in the neighborhood (heck, in the city and perhaps the world) will be gone. She strides straight into her plants where the stone wall catches the first flash of light and the shadows of stalks bent against it. Then light bobs, stalks shake Dustbuster sounds and maniacal laughter cuts the air. Seconds later, more stalks obey her hands, more bugs meet their suctioned fate. Early summer blooms (each morning glory, black-eyed susan, dahlia, delphinium) meet her in manic masquerade. She kneels she tips, she vacuums, she shrieks as she readies her garden for darkness of night. And when she enters her kitchen thirty minutes later, she brags about all the black blissful bugs, still very much alive and crawling in the Dustbuster’s clear blue canister. She smiles at me, wraps her trap in plastic wrap smiles again as she bands it in rubber sets the bugs to die on the dining room table. Next morning, she counts them with pencil one hundred fifty-seven slowly suffocated bugs. I speak not a word, not even in the morning when trapped into driving the car I marvel at all the flowering gardens in all the yards on both sides of her street.
Just Another Walk with Mom
Mother’s eyes could break a mirror could sear a sidewalk with enough sun to start a fire. I knew to practice smiling to walk across on tiptoe to cross my eyes until she disappeared in their apex. “You are so heavy,” she said “the sidewalk will break beneath you” and two more pieces of me went empty. After my eyes cracked into crying her coming kiss healed nothing.
©2021 Nancy Himel
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