the art of palm crossing

In her grandfather’s yard
a hollow lives
where his garden once climbed;
a small chipped stone
fountain stands empty
and birdless in the corner.

He had made palm crosses
after the Sunday mass,
tying the green blades
into linked bows.
They still perch in the corners
of picture frames
along the hallway
and in the bedrooms,
brittle and faded,
sometimes floating down
to the carpet to wait.

I fill the fountain,
she and her mother
and her mother’s mother
sitting on the porch
with tired eyes studying
over what is left
of the weedlot garden.

I have learned
the art of palm crossing,
learned it in the basement
as we unfolded the brittle creases
to discover it for ourselves.
Perhaps one day I too
will learn to garden,
patting weedless rows,
knowing that again,
after full meals of fresh
vegetables heaped on a table,
their plump bodies beaded
with water from the hose,
there will be days
of heavy mourning.

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