Before the bunnies came there was a beautiful garden filled with all manner of flowering things. The things were all white; Mother was not prone to color. White tulips underplanted with Virginia bluebells. It was spring. Summer was different; there was not enough sun once the trees leafed out. The garden relied on nasturtiums, which Mother and Father ate. It was strange to see the grilled fish with nasturtium butter melting over it. The twins only knew because Mother told them. 

But once you try, Mother said, the taste is magic. The twins knew what magic was. It made the sun rise. Now they knew it had a taste, which was the taste of flowers. But only this particular flower. Others you must stay far away from. This seemed very confusing. Best, Marigold thought, to stay far away from the garden lest you get too close to something dangerous blooming. 

Mother and the twins were sitting on the blue blanket. The twins thought Mother was lovely. She had enough hair so it went in many directions when the wind blew. Father was splendid. You are lucky girls, Mother said, to have a handsome father; you should try your best to look like him. She said nothing about herself. People with good manners didn't talk about their own attributes. This was called blowing a horn. 

Mother had paused in her weeding. She was sitting with the twins on the blue blanket that was kept in the shed for exactly this purpose. Nostalgically the twins had their heads in her lap. The heads bumped from time to time. Long ago—this is what they remembered. 

It was a beautiful day. Mother had said so. Father was off counting things. Mother did not spend a lot of time on the blanket; she was energetic and purposeful. This must be why she had twins, Marigold thought, instead of a regular baby. It was known Father wanted a goldfish. The twins watched from the blanket. It was still safe there; they couldn’t as yet crawl. 

In their different ways they loved this period. It was possible still to feel safe. They didn’t know this was what they felt until the feeling disappeared, though initially they were distracted, like all babies, by feelings of triumph. First crawling, then walking and climbing, then talking. Their clothes stopped fitting. Pajamas with feet were no longer appropriate. Infinite possibility—something they both felt. Then an absence or loss. Safety, which had disappeared. But all this was still to come. 

Meanwhile, the nasturtiums were gone. If you strained your eyes you could see the beheaded stems. But the riot of color was nowhere to be seen. Rose and Marigold didn’t know this; they had never seen a riot of color. This would have been their first. 

Mother was kneeling down, then standing up. Mother was struggling, Rose could see, to master her distress. She is trying to be calm for us, Rose thought, so we will be calm. Marigold, she thought, is prone to agitation. Take a leaf from my book, Rose thought, though she couldn’t say so. 

Mother was walking the garden, taking note of the bald places. The twins waited for her on the blanket. Rabbits, she said, when she sat down at last. They are in a book, Marigold thought, but they were called bunnies. That must be their name for children. And she longed, once again, for adulthood with its vast cargo of words. 

Mother sat on the blanket. She will talk to us about sharing, Marigold thought. Mother was committed to sharing, as she told the twins. The twins didn’t like to share. They each wanted everything all the time. It was the same with Mother. She didn’t want to share the garden with the bunnies, but she knew she must even if the reason wasn’t completely clear. Nevertheless, she put wire cages over the few surviving nasturtiums. 

Time to go in the house, Mother said. The sun was setting. It was going to be a beautiful summer day once, and now it had been a beautiful summer day, so it was time to go home. 

The twins were in the playpen, smelling the warm smells of inside the house. Father was coming home. Drums in the twins’ hearts. He would pick them up, each one in turn, and lift them high into the air. 

We are thriving, Rose thought; Rose was sensitive to the moment. And Marigold thought this was true, she who took the long view. 

Excerpted from MARIGOLD AND ROSE by Louise Glück. Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Copyright © 2022 by Louise Glück. All rights reserved.