There is magic in the way she prunes the plants.
How she tears away the biggest leaves
to make the basil grow. How she rips
shriveled flowers from the tip of the stem
to clear space for new buds to sprout.
She wets the soil with the hose and I cut
cilantro shoots down to the stalk.
Her father died less than three months before
the birth of our son, who bears him no
likeness but subtle hints of the departed
man, appearing in the boy’s shape.
Like when he puffs his arms out to the side
or in the way he knows how a tool works
just by looking. It is as though the soul
sloughed away one body for another.
One continuous person. Outer form
peeled away to make room for new growth.
The damp smell of tomato musk spreads
across the yard and into the dusk.
We pull dead leaves from the tomato vines
so that nutrients reach the green fruit.
We pick what is ripe and our baskets are full.
Ben Weakley lives and writes in Northeast Tennessee, where he settled after fourteen years in the U.S. Army. His work won first place in the 2019 Heroes’ Voices National Poetry Contest and can also be found in The Ekphrastic Review, Portside, and Modern Haiku.
For the first time in nearly five years, Vita Brevis is closed for submission. Read the full story here.