Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Comrades in a Suburban Flower Garden

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Crops sprout: corn and carrots, a lone corkscrew
pumpkin vine. Perennials snub these miracles, cultivated
by our three-year-old with the grit of a third-generation
Nebraska farmer. It's in his jeans, my husband
jokes. Old Navy. Gymboree.

I had no faith when the seeds went in, pummeled
by a Fisher-Price spade. I said, There is drought and pestilence, bullying,
missed opportunities, fractured bones, a broken heart,
hail, and sometimes you don't make the team.

My son combats these warnings with full-blast hose and mud
up to his squealing ankles. Let him be, my husband says.
I excel at bedtime stories, Band-Aids, coordinated attire
for preschool and questions about the cemetery
at the corner. How can they see under there?

From daisy and dahlia, the bald-faced poppies, we reap nothing
but sass. How will mother disappoint son? Let us recline
and recount. Don't jump on bed don't wipe snot
on sleeve don't finger electrical socket don't climb
bookcase don't stick fork in eye. Gee-sh.

Tell me, Doc, why does Disney kill the mother in the first five minutes?
He strokes beard and offers, So often she is dead before the movie begins.

By Labor Day, we yield carrots sized and shaped like deformed candy
corn and corn like baby carrots. Possibly in October a homegrown
jack-o'-lantern will sit on our front porch. Possible, but doubtful.

If he knew Bulfinch or Hamilton, if he had dabbled in The Interpretation
of Dreams
, my son would denounce me--inattentive gardener, cynic,
the woman who sleeps every night with Daddy--and banish
me for good. He would plug my ears with Red Emperor
bulbs and stuff my mouth with grubs. He would shackle
my wrists with rugged tubers and grant the worms, jeweled
blight of Hades,
permission to cudgel my skin.

Tina Egnoski is a poet and fiction writer. Her work has been published in a number of literary journals, including Cimarron Review, Folio, Hawaii Pacific Review, and Louisville Review. She is the author of the fiction chapbook, Perishables, published in 2010 by Black Lawrence Press. She grew up in Florida and currently lives in Rhode Island with her husband and 10-year-old son.

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Beautiful! The doubt that lies just beneath. Maybe in the vegetable garden, mostly in our hearts.
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