By Emily Lowe

September 12, 2022


On the day we move to Mount Airy, we stand in the front lawn of our new home next to a large magnolia tree in full bloom. Already, we are less than three years away from my father’s stroke, just feet from where he will fall. As we move our bags into the house and unload the small bits of our lives that fit in the trunk, we walk past the magnolia again and again, not realizing it is where my father will collapse while mowing the lawn.       

Every time we rush out the front door, we will pass this spot—when my sister and I sneak out in the velvet night to meet almost loves, when my mother plants and digs up overgrown bushes. She won’t tear up the magnolia, though; it is her favorite. Around and around, our lives will circle this future. We will circle the magnolia—the only one present for his fall. The only one to watch over him while he waited for someone to hear his shouts.           

One day, the basement pipes will burst, and the plumbers will have to dig up the magnolia. My mother will call me crying. “We lost it,” she will say, and I will understand how much she means.           

But on our first day in Mount Airy, my father is healthy. He has led us here, unboxed our new life. Sweat soaks his shirt. He stands next to the magnolia, the house—glimmering with possibility.


Emily Lowe is a Brooklyn-based writer and recent graduate of UNCW's MFA program. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Hobart, Arc Poetry Magazine, Moon City Review and elsewhere. She is currently at work on a memoir about her father and her childhood in the mountains of North Carolina.


Image by Yelena Odintsova courtesy of Pexels

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