Dead Things in the Garden
By Meg Murray
I cleaned the dead things from the garden today. Flowers with names I didn't know. Flowers you planted. I pulled out the old stems and dead heads. Yellow, tan, and crunchy. I gathered them into a bundle, and it reminded me of the grain dollies you made to thank Mother Earth for the harvest each August. I wish I had one to bury in your honor, next to these dried out stalks, these ghost plants.
We couldn’t buy wheat this summer. Worldwide shortage, they say. I’m glad you’re not around for that. Your baked treats were the talk of the neighborhood every fall. The mushroom suit that devoured your body composted you the way you composted our apple cores and eggshells over the years. Decay leads to new life. You fertilize the next generation of flowers, somewhere up above me, among the stars. You should’ve told me you signed up for the space gardening program. I’m not angry, but Melissa was upset. ‘What do you mean we can’t bury mom?’ she’d blurted out in the hospital when I read the notice that arrived as you were dying. The minute you were gone, they took your body. Right there from your hospital room. Just whisked you away like some sort of scientific secret.
But I understand why you did it. You’ve always loved gardening. And traveling. Now, Melissa’s kids can brag that Granny is an astronaut. Sort of. You’ll be on some space colony ship somewhere, fertilizing someone’s garden. I hope it yields beautiful stalks of grain, or at least some pretty flower blooms.
Here on Earth, I’ll try my best with the garden. I cleaned out all the dead things. Melissa and the grandkids are coming over for dinner tonight. They’ll help me plant some fall bulbs that will pop up with color next March. Brings relief from the long winter, they say. I’ll learn the names of all the flowers. I’ll do it for you.
About the Author
Meg Murray (she/her) is a queer writer from Colorado. Her work has been published in Solarpunk Magazine, HyphenPunk Magazine, Tree And Stone Magazine, and elsewhere. Find her stories online at MegMurrayWrites.com.