Friday, September 17, 2010

"Keeping Alive" by Catherine A.G. Bayly

I've never had a green thumb. I've purchased geraniums, mums, ferns, cacti--many plants throughout my life. All have withered, browned, and dropped leaves. But, after our baby died, I was given a collection of living plants. Green, breathing gifts were perfect. They were something I could commit to keeping alive, at a time when life was something at which to be furious. Four plants remain now, green, thriving. But, one night last week, one of those plants came crashing to the floor. The pot slivered into thousands of pieces across the kitchen linoleum. I dropped to my knees, nevermind the broken glass. I cried in a way I'd almost forgotten. As my quiet returned, I got out the dust pan. I turned it over in my hands, and looked at the sterile plastic of its handle. These, I thought. These little well-used pieces of plastic and these thousands of store-bought bristles are going to sweep up my baby. Bits of my baby, everywhere. Shards of baby. Remnants of baby. Soft dirt of baby. Leaves of baby. This is what I have left of my baby.

And I swept her up into a plastic dustpan. My memories, already so few, gathered into that plastic dustpan.

(Some of you mentioned this poem, in reference to a previous post, "Housekeeping.")

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