The Botanist and His Wife
can't take a walk around the block
without a game of identification. He points:
He: Yes, but which kind?
She (shrugging): Sugar? Red?
He (sighing): Acer saccharinum. Silver maple.
See how the bark peels and how the lobes
of the leaves are jagged and deep?
She (sidestepping): Watch out for the dog--.
First day of spring he kills plants,
sending the philodendron and the African violet out
to sun on the porch, imagining
their chloroplastic ecstasy.
their leaves are scorched, crisp
as potato chips around the edges.
She: Stay away from my plants. Don't dip
your fingers in my flower beds.
He (head hanging): Well, I just thought--
She (arms akimbo): And don't go near the
(where he pulls the stems off of onions, picks
cucumbers before the prickers have softened,
lets zucchini grow monstrous
like some forbidden radioactive experiment)
(By Sarah Cummins Small. Written with love and squalor for my husband. Published in Migrants and Stoways, 2004.)