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The Untended Garden.

For weeks following, from my window and from my mind, I saw beyond. Across the road to my neighbor's yard, where I've looked a hundred times before.

Beyond their broken line of tattered metal fence and rotting wooden posts . . . brown dust in furrows lie - small earthen mounds, now abandoned by their keeper.

Here,  floral color once kissed her hands and beans and gourds and peppers, grand -- it was indeed a small paradise in this desert land.

Now instead, only ragged branches cut between  the stark, paltry weeds -- dry  sticks, without wick , lying, dying, dead, untended, unloved.  (My heart aches for them.)  The ground seems to cry out - WATER!  No. No water kisses those sun-bleached rows.  Not any more.

I've never seen a garden look so  . . . empty.  (Alone is the word that comes to mind.  The garden misses her.  Its heart is broken, longing for her touch, for her Grace among the branches.)

Now, only the wind which blows from the south erratically tends the rows where her footsteps once trod. Here, now,  and desolate --  the barren earthen sod.  Oh, it misses her.

I miss her, too. I miss her morning clock-like regularity with her garden tasks. It is as if Time isn't quite running right - not now, not for a while without her there.  Yes, that's it.  Without the spring of sprouts, new and green, (tick-tick) the rise of vine, (tick-tick) entwine, entwine; the snap of peas, the crisp crunch of beans -- time has stopped.  No garden clock.

I smile.  I remember watching the touch of her hand - her tender hand - brown, roughened, yet tender still keenly bent to her morning chores, a repetitive sacrament of her devotion -- her loving task -- keeping green the rows, making brown her toes; and we, her neighbors gloried in what she so lovingly brought about.

My chin feels so heavy, resting on my hand, seeing the difference between now and then.  I feel (my urge)  -- where once there was life, life must begin again. But her husband has wearied beneath life's truth in her passing -- that the garden goes untended by the one he called his wife. He hasn't enough wick left either.

Perhaps . . . with hope I think . . .  I cradle the thought that she has passed  fair and true to her garden rules -   the pass of seasons come to all - even her.

So, with this tiny grasp of understanding, I begin to accept the void where she once stood.  I nestle my straw hat on my head, and with seeds in hand, I  take my own place upon the land.  The clock, the turn of time, of life and death, is turning now with me.  And for me, with each seed, I plant a little hope, a little future.  Joy has returned.

Kasin Hunter.