The Garden Tilled By Those Who Have Left Us

As a child, I grew in brief sprouts of mobility. Although I had passed the stages of suckling for a way of comfort, fear nursed me through the rest of my years. How time tormented me when I laughed too loudly and hugged at my ribs. How it sat quietly in the back of the church humming a low, soft tune reminding me one day I must grow older. One day I’ll have to muster up strength for those who scurry under me, whether they are children or birds settling in what is the now and present.

At the loneliest hour, my feet aggressively kicked in my sleep, running away from things that cannot be touched but can touch you. Death, loneliness and uncertainty; all of their names I have worn fastened to my breast unsure of their lumps. I threw the covers off of my body and my eyelids fluttered open hoping to see something not of this world but who knew far too much of it to be foreign.

I came alongside the others growing fast and untamed. I had shouting matches with those who could teach me when I decided I would be taught. Their tries tired of my wickedness and slowness to forgive, yet they reached for me like the sweetest slice of fruit. As a child, I learned quickly that I must fold myself in half and once again to live. In order to survive, we must learn to grow and retract when we have stopped sucking for warm milk. In order to survive, we must place our hands on sister and brother so-and-so’s back during the altar call prayer and bow our heads. In order to grow out of the shanties, shacks, slums and the ghettos we must heat the skillet before we pour the cornbread batter in.

How time had left us awestruck that our years have paraded right in front of us. We bent down to cup with our hands some of the running water out of the faucet to drink. Its tap taste had made no difference then, we had no thirst for filtration. Our souls had been purified as we waded through the baptismal pools or closed our eyes shut when the minister sprinkled water on our face. I thought too that I had been purified to make it another day learning from yesterdays. I thought too that individuals who could recount their youth as if it had cheated them at cards would speak. Their words firm but doughy, kneaded in wisdom retelling the sorrows and the sunshine glean.

Time did not heal what was mine but it made me hold it closer afraid to lose it. I felt my skin. I thought of trekking back home hoping to make it there before the door closes. I’d hope to set my foot in that familiar house before I am quickly snatched out of it only clutching my memories when I go…when I go to bloom like seeds repainting the earth.


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