WHEN MY MOTHER DIED, SPINACH REMAINED IN HER GARDEN

I want to write a poem called:

‘When my mother died,
spinach remained in the garden’

Set in her sanctuary
behind the house

beyond the clutter
and cobwebs within

with the knowledge
that joy is a seed planted

in anticipating spring beds
and the bright beauty

that would emerge
from dark soil—

Something she passed along
when she helped me build

my first garden
so many years ago.

I want to write that poem
but it will not sprout

the way I want
and I don’t know

if it’s because I don’t know
how to cultivate it

or because it’s a variety
I’m unfamiliar with

Regardless, with clippers I snipped
and snipped

handing bunches of green to my brother
who stuffed them in gallon freezer bags

Yes, a simple ritual
it’s true

but one carrying whole continents
of meaning

I was trying to be delicate
so why did it feel like a cutting away?

A harvest of hearts
to which we added spices

like the coriander seeds
we found in her cabinet

in our attempt at making saag paneer
replacing paneer with feta

because sometimes
you have to follow your own recipes

like my mom did
and I think she would have liked it

not being afraid
to try new things—

an ingredient she left behind
like spinach to her sons.

That is a poem I’d like to write
someday

But I don’t quite know how
to harvest it

and I don’t know if it’s because
I’m not here

Or because she is not.
But I’d like to write that poem someday

and in doing so, maybe leave
something nutritious behind.

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