Bio Note: Sick and quarantining with covid, thoughts of shelter and home are comforting—and healing. These are poems that fit the kind of longing uncertainty brings.
When nightmares drove me out of sleep she always let me in to snug up against her warm body her solid back a wall against all terrors She was my safety her arms the only soft place in a country full of scales and claws I thought I could always find my way past the open mouths of the doors along the dark hall to her room where I would always be welcome protected from whatever monster had my scent But she was no good past morning daylight burned off all her special power I learned too late it only worked on ghosts and shadows and would not keep me from the cold wolves that hunt us while we wake
Grandma could make anything grow. She’d spit an orange seed into her hand then push it into a pot of dirt and soon she’d have an infant orange tree with fragrant leaves that would release their sweet oily scent when you rubbed them Between your fingers. She kept a corner by her best window crowded with plants. It was like a miniature jungle, a lush tangle of ferns and vines she tended faithfully, keeping them clean and watered. She used no other encouragements, and still her green things grew eagerly, rich and dark, a complicated variety of forms and orders. Sometimes those plants, poor orphaned things that someone else gave up on, that came from funeral arrangements, or the dish gardens sent to the sick, would bloom for her, dewy flowers like tiny exquisite lilies, with a scent that could perfume the whole room.
©2020 Mary McCarthy
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