Pansies for Thoughts Inside the house, wretchedness grows like a

Pansies for Thoughts
Inside the house, wretchedness grows like a weed.
Choking out the light. The wildness spreads in the dark.
Words are tender shoots. Stunted. Crushed.
The disease that is tangling my father’s brain is
a creeping, invasive plant. Loosestrife of the mind.
Alone on the front porch, my thin skin soaks up the evening sun.
The latch clicks.
My father stands behind me, needing to know where I am.
Knows who I am. Knows he is Dad.
I should sit inside and watch the news with him
but my legs are tendrils curling out into the thick grass.
In the back yard of this old summer house are my gardens.
Two of them. No skill, just a compulsion, a clutching at hope:
If I can make something grow –
Gardening is an escape. I lose track, I forget.
Forced down on my knees beneath a silent stone companion
who clutches a cross in his hands, colourless birds perching on his concrete shoulders.
(Saint Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals and nature)
The garden around him began as clumps of violets
growing out of a tough, resisting lawn that didn’t want to be torn out by the roots
and tossed behind the shed. Discarded. Left to shrivel up and die.
This digging and hacking, this yanking and pulling, soothes me.
Frustration dissipates. I remember why I am here.
(Saint Jude, patron saint of lost causes)
Where the grass grew, I plant Echinacea. For healing.
Thick, needle-like leaves are crushed between my fingers, a scent inhaled.
Lavender. For calm.
Now I am pulling weeds in Maggie’s Garden
where heart-faced pansies grow out of the best friend buried in the red soil.
(Saint Roch, patron saint of dogs)
An enormous rock marks her clay grave. The rock holds her bones
inside the earth, prevents me from digging them up.
To be like we were. Before.
The puppy shoves her cool, damp nose against the exposed skin of my back.
I plant perennials. Mallow and daisies. Rudbeckia. For encouragement.
If we do not return, when,
the gardens will carry on. Always that hope
and those memories.
(Saint Anthony, patron saint of lost objects and missing persons)
My father stands on the back porch, needing to know where I am.
I dig deep, turning over soil. A worm is cut in half. A black beetle scurries away.
I smell rosemary. For remembrance.