For Hildegard

Photo by Taylor Heery on Unsplash

Her twelfth season tending
to my garden, she turns the soil
in flowerbeds, cuts back ornamentals
that would tangle in the trees, pulls
weeds, feeds seedlings she brings
with roots wrapped in wet paper towels.

This year she moves slower, as I do,
a mirror of my aging inside while
she works outside without complaint.
Sometimes, I can feel the ripples
of her anxiety blow across the mossy
ground. Her worries pop up like

Amanita after rain. I can’t soothe her
since she won’t say much, refuses talk
of reason, evidence. Terror comes easily,
I want to say. I grow old too. She still
promises, In fifteen years, this will
mature into a beautiful landscape

We had our lovers before AIDS
and Herpes. We had the pill. Distance
from drones and bombs has helped
our pretense of safety: vegetables
from the garden. Tofu, beans and rice.
Nothing can go wrong.

Joan Mazza

Joan Mazza worked as a medical microbiologist and psychotherapist, and taught workshops on understanding dreams and nightmares. She is the author of six self-help psychology books, including Dreaming Your Real Self. Her poetry has appeared in Comstock Review, Crab Orchard Review, Prairie Schooner, Poet Lore, Slant, The Nation, and elsewhere. She lives in rural central Virginia and writes every day.

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