Days stretch like unruly vinca vine spilling out of upright, Bernardo red geranium baskets; we snip them with tough-handed scissors and Katie weaves them into crowns to place upon our heads, tiny limelight leaves cascading over our faces.
Nights are short as flats of youthful monoecious begonias sprouting, thick with moisture, heavy. I dream of unloading dust-bottomed trucks and wake myself in sleep as my arms support imaginary trays and pass empty air onto my spare pillow, rolling beads of sweat tucked behind my ears for the demand of a defeated body even sleep cannot stop.
The heat scoops out the mind, replaces it with rhizomes and rootstalks grasping at water. I see petals pressed to my eyelids. It is more than just labor I exchange for paper, it is the way I learn to breathe, reaching for water like flora, beginning to crave the burn of sunlight in any enclosed space.
I trade in smooth skin for dirt ingrained into each lined path of my fingerprint, collections of bruises I hold on my legs; the slopes of kneecaps, deep blue like that of fertilizer droplets onto sundried concrete.
Pushing hot metal loading carts of hanging Boston ferns, I rely on brass guitar hamstrings, twisted tight, and round back corners of greenhouse plastic to spill out with the backfield breeze tucking more water behind my ears. The peppers grow in the adjacent field, sun hats and beaten flannels hunch to pick lines. I count my steps and check at lunch, rubbing ice in paths across my calves.
My stomach dives a flip when I see the tapeners, a vine and plant tying tool, under the counter next to the sandwich bag of stale cigarettes. August, burning, I spent days propping up hungover shoots of blackberry plants, plump black fruit at the tips, clinging to stems. Hot blackberries melted on our tongues as we tried to keep count of the early crop, tried to coerce photosynthesis into biting its own tongue as we snipped off the white flower buds.
No one grabs my weight, assists my kneecaps when I collapse in iron-efficient orange dirt, my body pushing up dust into nostrils. Buckets for catching weeds thrown in the air sit at the wood line, good containers for vomiting out heat stroke. I heave the remnants into the flower graveyard back towards the edge of the property, where my DNA and failed, moldy bulbs of lilies meld together, hold a plot in the fertile soil where pansies sprout up each spring. The life always returns.
I walk at the end of October, retire my bones until the next planting season. In our language of the flower, the root, the bee, what can you say about a woman and her body that mine has not already said?
Sara Brown received her BA in literature with a concentration in creative writing from Stockton University in December 2018. I have had my photography published in Into the Void, Midwestern Gothic, Camas, and my poetry and creative nonfiction in Tiny Leaf, the Raw Art Review, Permafrost, and Toho Journal.
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