Marlena Chertock

“I wonder what flower it is,”
my Bubbie says, holding up a purple bud,
twisting the stem across her thumb and index finger.
“Do you know?”

“It’s an azalea,”
my dad would say, without looking it up,
the names of trees and buds ingrained in his mind
after planting the things for 22 years.

She looks back at the flower
then tosses it into the grass.
We walk farther down the street,
the salty smell of worms from last night’s rain strong.

Dad works outside in the sun,
the scent of sweet grass lingering on him.
He walks grass seed across lawns,
pushes tiny trees into the ground.

Bubbie’s pearls glisten in the summer sun,
she always wears jewelry, she likes dressing up.
She’s going to water all her flowers, she says,
when we get back home.

Dad and her haven’t spoken since I was five,
when my parents divorced, the dinner invitations stopped.
He tells me the names of plants we pass on the street,
I don’t remember them like he does.


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