Named his kids for vegetables—his son, Kale, his daughter, Kohlrabi.
Wore t-shirts with his neckties;
you need a bit of comfort, he’d say,
to navigate the serious business of life.
Had a wife but couldn’t keep her.
Life on the farm was just too damned hard.
(They lived in the city, but you get the idea …)
She drifted off one spring like a tumbleweed,
her fresh scent borne away on the wind.
Thought he might get another,
but, like plants, some things just have to grow;
you can’t go out and buy them when you feel like it.
And sometimes the soil
just isn’t right for transplants.
So each year, whenever the spring wind kicked up,
he’d scan the skies for her.
If she came back, he thought,
spring would be the proper time;
in his mind she was always green and new.
Kids grew up, changed their names to Kyle and Kayla.
He still thought of them as vegetables,
crisp and beautiful creations
he had seeded with their mother
tended with his own hands, watched grow
with and despite his care.
Life, he thought, looking at them.
Isn’t it marvelous? Isn’t it sad? Isn’t it marvelous?
Dear old dad, the kids think. Isn’t he funny?
We never did get the thing with the ties,
and how come
he didn’t shack up with someone else after mama left?
But they’re beginning to hear something different
on the wind,
to taste something different
on their tongues.
On his next birthday,
without quite understanding why, they buy him
three beautiful neckties, pure Italian silk
that slips through his fingers, the way she did once.
But the silk stays, like a mountain stream made to stand still.
He knots one on, kisses the kids, and smiles. And cries. And smiles.
© Copyright Elizabeth Nash 2012