Gardener’s Companion || Toti O’Brien

          As I bend, my body accordion-folded, mind floating above while my body, underneath, performs its own rituals—

          A firm pinch, a brisk yank, then I toss the weeds I just pulled into the close-by trashcan—smell of green bringing comfort to my neurons just like a familiar touch, a caress. Smell of green that is so disparate from the color, so un-fresh—thick and fleshy and muddy—a smell that’s, in fact, brown.

          As I breathe it in from my fingers, identity snaps at me like a cool breeze sneaking under the sheets, like a pleasant chill waking me up, then collecting me within a reassuring hug. “This is I,” say my nostrils, meaning, “I am you”. I do what you always did—my fingers, your fingers—my fingers having held yours long enough to directly learn the trade, skin to skin.

          As I almost unconsciously bend to manicure mother earth, grooming her scalp as you did until your last day, while I tottered at your side—combing mother earth, beautifying it with small and decisive gestures as you might have dusted and swept the luxurious hall of a palace—

          As I gather my body in a fist—a jack-in-the-box ready to spring back, then ball up again to catch another parasite growth, another exuberance—I feel rooted, attached. To you, meaning to the past, meaning to all. And the scent that hems me, rims me and be-rings me is a lingering sweat of love I don’t want to rinse, is the aftermath of an embrace I want to be indelible. It is a good humor. It’s the secret that makes me sing.