By Jenny Apostol

April 10, 2017


“Cheerful!” she said, “What is it?” Then recognizing the compact rows of marigold trophies lining spray upon spray arcing over the yard, “Oh, kerria, that was my mother’s favorite.” A moment of silence for one mother’s mother gone twenty years.

We were neighbors and mothers, introduced by our children’s airy games, yet our friendship apprised over mutual love of a flowering plant; other things arose in common: Filmmaking. Pottery. Music. The Village. Parents. Upstate. Cancer.

Over the years, my kerria bush lost luster as we pruned deadwood aggressively to encourage new growth after each winter’s frost. Browning stems accumulated fewer blooms. A spiral diminishing inward, hewing elsewhere.

I had survived rogue cells inside my body years before. Hers were more zealous, incurable, and encroached upon organ and bone. Clutched at her from the inside. Her yellow, curly tresses, both rule-y and wild, disappeared beneath a turban of soft, autumnal colors-- ochre, pale green, peach—to frame her narrowing face aglow.

Now, our kerria is gone, choked by a tangle of roots; runners of ivy hid underground for years, dormant yet stalking all along, they broke through topsoil to form a mass that cannot be extracted.

She too waned like a seed back to earth after its season, her sap melted into bark. I waited for sun.

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