Your body is an unlikely bed, furrowed and dry as a sun-sucked plain. You’ll need some tending, but I’m sure the garden will take. In the end, most things do.
I’ll plant perennials, some succulents and a flowering shrub, purple impatiens that bloom in low light. Nothing fancy; too much color embarrasses you.
I run ivy along your clavicle and around your ribs and fill your mouth with ferns. The fronds bend and brush in the wind from the overhead fan. Shh, shh, shh. The backs of your hands are pale and peeling, fingers gnarled like birchbark. There’s a limit, now, to what they can do, so I pack your gums with loam and when you spit on the pillowcase, I use a clean corner to dab your lips.
There’s soil on the sheets which I will not wash. Our laundry is coin-op, and I trade our last roll of quarters for a guppy in a plastic bag. I carry it home from the pet store in the Pyrex bowl where we used to keep limes to garnish our gin.
I pour water into the hollow below your breastbone and let the guppy slip into the little pond. I rest my head on your shoulder’s bank and bury myself in leaves. What’s left is strange terrain, alive and mine: the modest garden; the pond, shimmering and small; the fish with blossoming fins, swimming and swimming around your heart.
KATE CROSBY –Kate’s fiction has appeared in Pleiades, The Journal, The Bellingham Review, PANK, Pithead Chapel, Bartleby Snopes, and others. Her flash fiction was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Queen’s Ferry Best Small Fictions. She earned an MA from the Bread Loaf School of English and an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars. She teaches high school English and lives in Salem, MA
Art by JACQUELINE STAIKOS — Jacqueline is a largely self taught contemporary artist living in Quinte West, Ontario. She has exhibited her work in several Ontario galleries including shows in Toronto, Kingston and in New York City. Her creative process involves working with inks, acrylics, oils and mixed media. She is currently working out of her home studio in Trenton, Ontario. More of her art can be viewed on her website, jstaikos.org or on Instagram as jstaikosart.