for k



my mother grows a jar full of seeds. keeps it on a shelf for her daughters to stare at, not touch; the glass womb cases sunflowers, the withered pea, corn kernels shaking midwest; these are the ones i know, pressed with their skins to each other ready to clack and scatter; we stare at the womb from all sides, our eyes bulb through the heavy curved glass


until we are old enough.  the jar swollen on the top shelf;  finally we are tall, able to catch at it, fingertips sucking its smoothness.  mother carries it down to her daughters, opens the lid, and each of us reach in a hand, tara clutching a handful, me wading through, jacketed by the smell of peat moss, earthworms burrowing, and clay.  i select ten and run after tara who has already scattered hers across the corner garden.  it is raining and tara laughs as the drops plow the seeds slowly down, puddles washing over their aged skins


i kneel in the garden, let the soil soak through my knees.  i pack each seed under layers of dirt.  ten.  one for each year i've grown outside my mother's womb.  i press my ear to the earth, rain masking me with mud.  listen to what it's like to be a seed




my mother understands why some seeds refuse to grow.  it isn't the rain or the dirt, the blackbirds scooping them up to crack in tight beaks.  some seeds, she tells me, do not want to be born; they enjoy the careful wombs made by their mothers too much to risk the world.  tara is a terrific seed, impatiens, mother calls her.  i am more trouble, sometimes a violet, but usually an oak that chooses to grow slowly, if at all, with deep roots


spring 1997