A Messy Garden in a New Backyard

by Christina Lundberg

Sure, I’ll move away for a job opportunity that isn’t mine. As long as I can plant a messy garden in a new backyard. 

Life goals are important and mine is to see myself as the sun does, a small microscopic manilla bag of ideas blowing

across heavy pages of thick, bare sidewalk, completely unfolded, my free form following droplets of rain like breadcrumbs.

I walk my son to the bus stop, stand awkwardly in the suburban air, too tucked in and poky. Stretch band a few lip to cheek

smiles as I warm myself up to new neighborly conversation. My son, runs a head, finds his way to the young boys as kids do,

their shoes like skipping stones scuffing heels, mutters full of gest, one liners, and non-sensical jingles.

They laugh, thinking they are so funny. It should be this easy.  

I try to make small talk with a few parents and instead of throwing an effortless phrase out of the mouth, as if I do it every day,

all carefree and skippy, I know I am reeling back way too far. Trying to fish in a just throwing flat pebbles into the pond

kind of moment. But I am in it now. Hoping I do not tangle and get stuck in the weeds way down there at the bottom

of some super safe sentences about where to get the best groceries and when we do garbage pickup.

No one seems to want to join me out deep, to know each other as more complex solar systems. I see so many stars.

And then all the kids get on the bus, and the parents wave wishing they could see past the dark tinted windows, just in case their kids

happen to peer out and need that look.

I need that look. Yet, I am the only mother left standing, who notices. On the slow walk back home, I know there is a house where sadness

lives inside of me, like a soft, aching chink, cracking beneath my quiet branch, and wonder if I were to ever open its closed, oak front door,

I might swell-up, and soak in so much despair that I drown right then and there in-between myself and the doorknob, right in the palm

of that numb and sweaty handshake. But that is not what happened.

Instead, I went out back to my messy garden, the air smelling of chestnuts, and bent down to the earth, looked straight into the eyes of the

coffee colored mushroom compost, like dark softening tinted windows on the bus, and waved back at myself.

She nodded, and I walked into the sad house, saw young and so alone. “Not me. Oh no.

Not red sweater white button, wide open lake eyed me.”  Then, pinecones fell from the shoulders of juniper trees,

natural protectors of seeds tucked in close to the cone’s inner core, and leaned their woody wings up against me,

and with so much gentleness took a quiet stand “Yes, you. It gets to be you.”

Photo credit: Markus Spiske, Unsplash