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April 1, 2012 vol 8 no 1

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Tricia Orr

Hardening Off

The melting snow makes for unsure footing as we stumble along the early spring trail. In the distance, ice on the pond cracks open. You are telling me that I can't save everything, a gentle admonition to my tears over the pigs. Millions of them buried alive in South Korea due to a disease outbreak.

When dusk spreads like melted pewter, and I am back home and alone, I pick up the plants I have started from seed in newspaper pots and take them out into the chill evening air to harden them off. Just for a little while tonight. A bit longer tomorrow and so on until they can handle the cold nights once I've planted them outdoors.

I sit on the ground with the life-buds around me. Anticipating the planting season, I sink my hands into the churned up earth. My left hand grazes a smooth rock and I flinch at its likeness to a snout pushing up. I leave it there and take the seedlings inside. But I am not ready.

a faint heartbeat
pulsing in my open palm –
another's pain