My green thumb is brown
from loosening the soil,
my mother’s red and strained
from the shovel she grips.
Together we rip tendrils
from the earth to start
over fresh once again.

This dirt, once her father’s,
birthed beans, potatoes,
herbs, peppers, tomatoes,
and one year, sunflowers.
Taller than his six-foot stature,
a natural sweep of gold blooms
brightened their tangled greenery.

All we have left of the garden
and my grandfather are fragments,
stories passed down by his daughter
and sun-spotted photographs.
As we clear the soil, my mother
and I tug roots that refuse to leave.

Her favorite purple petunias mingle
with my blue bundles of lobelias,
bringing attention to a young patch
of sunflowers. I doubt they’ll make
it over three feet before the squirrels
get to them but, at least for now,
I love the way they light up the yard.

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Bethany Cutkomp is a writer from St. Louis, Missouri. One day, she hopes to write YA novels and befriend the opossums under her porch. Her work appears or will appear in Mag 20/20, Split Rock Review, Crab Apple Literary, ballast, The Spotlong Review, oranges journal, and more. You can find her on Twitter at @bdcutkomp.
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