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April 2018, vol 14 no 1

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Melissa Allen

What’s Missing

I’m still discovering things he took with him when he left. The latest is the trowel. Apparently I haven’t needed or wanted to plant anything in two years, so I didn’t notice before that all the hand gardening tools had gone with him. He left all the big tools – spades, hoes, rakes – but when I dig in the dirt I like to do it up close and personal. I like to see the things that are buried, the rocks, the roots, the black, inscrutable beetles. I like to break up the more stubborn clods of dirt between my fingers. I like to get my hands so dirty that I have to run very hot water over them for a long time, and scrub them at length with strong soap, to restore normalcy.

So I went to a hardware store and bought a replacement trowel, because buying things is an easy way to stop up so many of the gaps. The new trowel is solid and effective and comfortable in my hand, but it’s not the trowel I spent twenty years planting things with. The entire process of planting felt different this time. The soil seemed more resistant to my incursions, as if it had grown some kind of beetlish carapace during my two fallow years. And I look at the new plants nervously every time I walk by, expecting them, perhaps, to have dislodged themselves somehow and walked away.

summer drowsiness
I list my mistakes

on the flyleaf


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