From “Grandmother’s Garden”


I am in another country. On a morning of clear sunlight, I walk into a garden thousands of miles from where grandmother lived and died. I speak of the Heather Garden at the mouth of Fort Tryon Park in upper Manhattan, a stone’s throw from my apartment. 


I stroll on the curved path past a lilac tree with its gnarled trunk. I stoop to touch purple fuzz of heather, I try to avoid earthworms twisted at the roots. In between the stalks of heather I see tiny snails. Their shells are the color of laterite soil in the garden of my childhood, a reddish hue with shades of indigo from the minerals buried in the earth.

Close by a baby gurgles, its limbs held tight to the mother’s chest in a snuggly, its tiny head bobbing. A dragonfly on iridescent wings glides by the mother and child. Overhead clouds shift and pass.

Later by stone steps that lead down to grassy knoll I see a child.

He wears clothing at least two sizes too large for him and on his feet are sneakers of a dull green color with frayed laces he has bound to his ankles. He is standing on his tiptoes, rooting in the trash bin.

He picks out a half eaten sandwich and clutches it tight. Then he brings it to his lips.

I stand very still. I do not want to scare him and I watch as he runs hard, a brown streak of light, past the lilac tree, out of the park.