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Proposal

by Christina Gleason

My friends say we will marry, but I have not
asked. After one year, I will take a flower
and tack it to our wall, and after one year more
if it is still whole, all dry, I will consider it.

These are the superstitions of the great-aunts
I have not seen since Montpelier, ten years old,
a flat cylinder of a girl. When I found a box
in my mother's closet with twenty-one rose
stems, and a bag of bulbs, I took them. They were small
and brown, and she would not plant them in the yards
of her second and third loves. I have watched her grow
dense and green and low, among the weeds, no single stalks.

My father lost. He had an herb garden and passed it on
to me. I eat its basil whole, let the flat leaves fold
around my teeth, chew the vein, drown the rest
in the sauce his mother taught me to make
before she died. I still take tomatoes off the vine
from my uncle's garden, and distill them onto dinner plates.
On our table, we keep our vase - it fills and fills
with scraps of paper.

03/10/2005

Posted on 03/10/2005
Copyright © 2024 Christina Gleason

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