In the morning, when I walk outside,
She is waist-deep in tomato vines
Collecting the first batch in a glass bowl;
Cucumbers hang below yellow flowers,
Purple chili shine from a flat bush
Under green bell peppers.
He takes me by the hand to the garage
Where he now has a fridge, a sink, and a grill
In the place where he used to keep tools.
Three of the walls are still large altars
With pictures of us children, each one a wall
And a vase of flowers, an icon, or a cross.
He opens a bottle of whisky he had been keeping
For a day just like this, when I might be visiting,
And never mind it’s only half past ten, he fills the glasses
With a smile wider than the sunflowers outside the door:
“Oh, come and drink with me, my child,” he says.
Around his aorta, the tumor coils.
Inside his heart there is the cleanest blood,
The pure happiness of being old, at peace
With all that life has offered.
She, five fractured ribs, walks slowly
With the morning’s harvest and we light the grill.
She won’t drink but will hold a glass
To toast the year’s reward: their daughter home.
I walk around the garden with them, taking pictures
Of the willow they had planted the year I married,
Which now shades the entrance, the calla lilies,
Queens of the night and honeysuckle bushes,
Purple pansies and pink mouth-of-the-lion blooms.
And I pray that every full stop I put in these lines
Is in the right place, every comma after the right time
That passes between walking from one flower to another,
While the glasses empty slowly and we are grateful
That we still can have that one drink, together,
Standing in the sunshine, with the song of birds.