Fragments, or, What We Do Not Say
It has been 10 years since I last saw her. Her energy is still the same. Honey, a slow Sunday morning, eucalyptus burning, a Gingko tree.
I wear her child on my back and she sleeps as I prune the earth. Her weight feels natural, and when she occasionally stirs, my hips fall into the instinctual rhythm of rocking her back to sleep.
"You're a natural," E says, and my heart both swells and breaks.
We are silent as we work; the earth is hard and cold, and the scraping and bending is laborious and exhausting and also somehow freeing. I'm not sure what we're doing out here. E says that you can always find ways to grow something, even in the winter. My cuticles crack against the cold and I hear her laugh at something a few rows down.
When we get inside, she steps away to make us tea, and I hold her daughter to my chest. She is awake now, but sleepy, her eyelids fluttering, her mouth releasing soft bubbles of spit. I kiss her cheeks and forehead; run my fingers through her hair. E returns, offering the mug of tea in exchange for her child. I release her slowly.
"It'll happen for you, too, you know."
She doesn't say more and I understand what she means.
In the evening, we make biscuits from scratch. I watch E's hands work to knead and roll out the dough, and witnessing her move, covered in flour, I feel myself start to breathe.
"You have to remind yourself of the difference between being stuck, stagnant, and biding your time," E is saying. "The earth bides it's time often. Nature teaches us a lot."
I look out of the window, at the plot of land, at the sun setting, at the earth. I look back to E, who is not looking at me, but at her daughter.
"Yeah," I say.