The garden is waiting. She's turned the soil, raked the winter leaves into a pile, bagged them in compostable bags, smoothed the heavy dirt back into place, and now she is waiting.
Which seeds? she says.
Any seeds, you say. What do you want?
She looks at you as if she doesn’t know what you said or couldn’t hear you, some failure of attention or comprehension. She waits too long before speaking, but then she says, as if in answer to your question. What comes.
or was it a question. What comes?
Comes where? you say.
She laughs, that melodic genuine trill of amusement, even throws her head back so the sun catches the blue of her eyes, matches it to the sky, just as she leans back, looks at you, says, Why here. She’s looking at the smooth garden of dirt. Here, she says again. I want what comes here.
She sounds as if she is speaking to a child, which you resent, immediately, then you realize you still don’t know what in the hell she is talking about. The heat surges in your chest. You ignore it. It’s just a two by six foot rectangle of dirt you’re talking about. Doesn’t matter. Let her have her way . . . which your calm inner voice points out you were trying to do from the very beginning: discern what she wants and then give it to her. You try again. So, what are you going to plant?
You look around with conscious exaggeration. There is not another person, bird, mammal in sight. Yes, you.
The laugh again. Why nothing. I told you. Just what comes.
You look at the prepared earth again—tilled, smoothed, soaker hose in place. You take a deep, conscious breath, a little louder, more evident, more accusatory then you really intended, but still . . .
Something will come. She’s standing now, brushing off the spade, tidying up, calm and irritatingly faithful.
Weeds will come, you say, It is patently obvious.
One, she says sweetly, how do you know it will be weeds if we are open to everything and, two—the smile—what does “patently” mean in that phrase?
You ignore her patently oblique comment about weeds, her refusal to engage, and go to the second. Well obvious is what anybody . . .
Any fool, you mean.
You defend yourself. I didn’t say that. Anybody, I said, which I suppose, here you smile, a perfect imitation of hers, which would include fools as well as geniuses. You don’t say like you, but hope she feels slightly validated or complimented by the way you wink at her when you say genius.
She’s gathered up all the gardening implements and has stepped around the “garden.” Don’t forget to water it, she says.
Which will be . . .
Patently obvious, she says.
© 2013 Kathleen Coskran