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Jane Ebihara


it was Stella’s bony frame
lifting and lowering in the garden outside my window
she was pruning again
tending to her young with names like
Admired Miranda   Cottage Rose   Dairy Maid
bloom to bloom she drifted down the garden path
Stella Watson was a quiet woman
with wrists as thin as her flower stems
it was she who invited the neighbors to
watch the night blooming cereus come to life
the gravel drive between our houses became the theater
one night a year where
we brought lawn chairs  popcorn  lemonade
spoke in hushed tones
as if we could frighten the bloom away
interfere with the night
we waited
and when it happened
it wasn’t like fireworks or childbirth
there was no loud celebration
it was like prayer
like the face of god
like holding your breath   holding on
Stella is gone now   the garden is gone
even my window is gone but
the place where the flower bloomed is still there
sifted through by others whose marigold and pansies
ordinary life chokes the patch where for a moment
the night bloom rose and stole our breath
so much childhood forgotten
strange that I should remember Stella
moving slowly down the garden path
tending and teaching bloom to bloom
there must be a place in that still damp earth
a place where her bony knees pushed into the soil
a place where she rested her hand or
lay down her bonnet to wipe her brow

there must be something there still to show
that she once lived
once grew a garden that bloomed
even in darkness

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