A Bed, a Bouquet, a Crown
Note: The forest fires in Northern California have left a teen, who longs for safety and the return of her young man, homeless. Inspired by the Napa Valley fires in October, 2018.
Shadows lengthen beneath the lone, live oak at the edge of the vineyard, branches spanning the late afternoon and a girl with no home. Wind hums through near-bare boughs, invites owls to sun-warmed nests as Mara rests at its base among the tall, grassy weeds. Meadow grass and sorrel sprout throughout the vineyard, flatten in waves with a breeze then spring up as fresh as the roses that used to punctuate each row of vines. Since the Napa Valley fires last year, there had been little work--fruit had shriveled on vines, turned to ash, and had long blown away. Mara’s relatives had moved north to other camps, other harvests while she remains behind, each day waiting for Diego, her young man, who searches for work. She searches for safety and finds it, like the deer, nestling among the tall, grassy weeds at the foot of a lone, live oak. The sky darkens, showcases Andromeda, Princess of Ethiopia, and Cassiopeia, the Queen. Mara sends a prayer to the universe, floats off to sleep as snug as the owls that rest on branches above her. For now, this is home. Mara does not know how many nights she lay dozing beneath the oak, but each morning fields bloom yellow with wild mustard. She shakes weeds from her hair, walks across fields of gold, past stands of thistles -- much more than crimson weeds rosy as flushed cheeks. As she nears the meadow’s edge, her eyes rest upon broadleaf clover, dandelion and nutsedge. Collectively, these shape rich carpets of wildflowers – more than enough bouquets to raise her spirits. Mara pauses, chooses blue cornflowers, purple henbit and lovely pampas grass to weave crowns – one for her, another for Diego; for his she seeks coarse, blue-green grass, long and unkempt like his beloved hair -- like the meadow grass waving and rustling during the wait. She turns to walk back, keeps an eye out for bindweed tangles on tree trunks to tie bouquets and crowns. Approaching her lone, live oak at the edge of the vineyard, she moves toward her resting place clutching crowns, just as an old truck rumbles by and stops. Pushing aside the tall, grassy weeds, she waits, wide-eyed, for the dust to clear.
From Grace Notes: a Memoir in Poetry & Prose (Goldfish Press, Seattle: 2021).
©2023 Mary Anna Kruch
All rights reserved
Mary Anna Kruch …
…is a poet inspired by nature, social justice, and her native Italy. She has published two books, We Draw Breath from the Same Sky (2019) and Grace Notes (2021). Recent poetry can be found in Wayne Literary Review and Trinity Review.