Because, sometimes, survival looks like a sunporch crowded with living plants despite
how much I’ve been told I can’t keep anything alive. Every muscling green kniving
from the dirt, reminding me of my mama’s cutting tongue, blade up, a warning with roots.
I’m learning to care for other living things and myself. I overwater my aloe
and my liver. Forget my fern needs shade as much as my heart needs to sleep
in the dark. Crowd my tomato plants the way I choke on thoughts
of leaving myself. I kill them sometimes. I try again next season.
I touch their new leaves when I can’t sleep. Whisper my worry because
What will be left for my children? Who will take cuttings and grow them in their own rooms
if this world is dead? I give them what I have—my voice, water, house in the winter. I fill my sunporch
with the living and the dead and talk to both. I put soil on my tongue because I want to taste both.
I remember how my mama said I need a minute when she got home from work, and gave her tired
to a chair, closed the door to the kitchen to escape her screaming house, and talked
to her philodendron crawling up the wall. Like my mama packed a room with plants
like gauze in a wound, I’m trying to know healing from the inside out.