“Hang on a sec,” Mother said, “Dad’s out in the garden.
It finally stopped raining yesterday
and he decided to tackle this week’s crop of weeds.”
And there he was in my mind’s eye,
on hands and knees, working his way down a row of
snap beans, carefully inspecting
tangled vines for signs of rot or marauding cutworms,
while his mud-encrusted fingers
ruthlessly pinched and tugged weeds from the soil.
I could hear Mother’s footsteps
through the kitchen, the slam of the back screen door,
and her loudly yelling his name,
then nothing save their grandfather clock’s tick-tock
as the phone lay unattended.
On her second shout, I pictured him tilting his head,
finally roused from a reverie,
as he grudgingly struggled to lift himself upright,
straightening the kinks with
popping knees and a sharp stab of pain from a back
that was no longer cast iron.
When he came to speak my name into the receiver,
clearing his throat of silence and pollen,
a whiff of his damp garden carried all the way to me.

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