You with a shovel. I grabbed handfuls. With joy, we buried it.
That night I asked you if it was growing. I stayed up all night and worried. When you were gone, I dug for it.
I cried at dinner. You knew. “If you leave it be,” you caressed my head. “It can begin growing.”
In the mean- time, I learned that we lived in a white house at the end of a dirt road. A beautiful white house. A creek that ran in the back, with swift water. We waded in together, and when you crouched, I simply sat in the mud. There were also oak trees in the garden. You harnessed me to you, and we pruned them.
I gained consciousness like my skirt pooled water. I gained consciousness, high up in the oak tree. I gained strength enough to climb it. A forest grew as far as I could see.
I sang songs to you and mother, on the stairwell, in the bath, in the woods. I began to run, and ran far, for joy of your land. I brought pine sprigs and wild lilies into the house. I read the golden books in your study. I found the words to talk with you, or at least to ask you questions. I hunted for you until I found you in the garden. I chased you down when I saw you walking the path between the house and the road. I told you everything I learned about the world. I sat on the porch and watched the afternoon shadow. I danced with you and mother when the light came into the high windows from a land called the West.
After dusk, company came. The first was John, quiet and meek. He attended mother constantly. Our eyes met and he smiled at me. Brown eyes. Eternal youth. Wild tranquility. When he ducked into the dark, he pressed into my hand some seeds. I looked at you as if to say: “what are these?”
Gemma came. She said nothing, too. I sat on her lap and she shared her plate with me. She rested her chin on my head. When I rested my head on her chest, it grew hot as a stove, and nearly burnt me. She, too, had seeds for me.
A flock of birds, blue and yellow and red birds, swarmed the great oak trees one day. That evening, Francis came.
He talked so frantically he did not eat. He smiled in between every sentence at me. I feared him, but said nothing, only “thank you” when he gave me two handfuls of seeds. My little fists were overflowing.
“Who are the visitors?” I asked you, troubled. Before now, I only knew mother and father. You stood at my bedside, as mother knelt and stroked my hair.
“Why are they your friends?” I did not hear your answer, I fell asleep.
Teresa came and laughed with you about everything. I noticed your laugh was booming. Therésè sat beside her and smiled shyly at me. When she parted, she kissed my forehead and I found, on the table, a hundred seeds.
Charles came and unrolled maps for me. He looked at you when he said, “the land is far. Much farther than one can see.” He told me wild bedtime stories, desert caravans, rough seas. He did not fail to bring seeds.
When he left, you found me looking at my rucksack of seeds. You put your hands on my shoulders.
“Shall we plant them?”
The reddest of roses broke the earth. Ferns, melons, sunflowers. Some I think became violets. Others, tomatoes and radishes in your grove.
First of morning, I admired them. Noonday, you and mother and I, we watered them. Evening, we weeded them.
I think I forgot about the seed until a rainy day I looked out the window, surveying my garden, and saw that there was no longer a mound, but a sapling. Something old stirred and scratched in me, but something better cautioned: Leave it buried.
When Fulton came, he stayed the longest. He talked to you. He hugged mother often, always kissing her cheek. He made me laugh. You whispered something to him. He was surprised.
He told me, “show me the tree.”
I lead him out by the hand to the sapling. It was dark and dewy in the garden. He bent low and blessed it. Then, towering over me, all I saw were his eyes shining.
“This will be a great tree,” said he.
A great tree. I held his words close to me.
I sat till morning light on the tall banks of the creek. I did not sleep. I thought about the many years that tree has now been steeped in good earth. What fruit would it bear? When will it be ready for harvest?
My mouth watered for its fruit. Tears rose up from my wanting.
I heard you approaching. You sat down with me. All around us, the mist of morning. But we still heard the creek flowing. And my sobs as I did at dinner that one evening.
Are you unhappy with the creek, the garden, the house, the woods?
You were still. For a long while you said nothing. I think then, for the first time in my life, I looked at you. You for you, not who I was to you, babbling and knowing it all, but just you. Who was it that dug with me, crouched with me, built the white house, tamed the woods I loved to roam? Who was it that followed me out to my great solitude, the banks of the creek? But the lines of your face blurred in my mind’s youngness.
Your figure rose, and at last I watched your back as you glided down the green banks.
Abigail Herrick is a sophomore studying English and education at K-state. She delights in Jesus Christ in literature, art, and conversation and her love language is dance parties and coffee at unseemly hours of the night.