Cuttings

Small as a Poblano Seed

ILLUSTRATION BY RUSSELL THORNTON

Eight poblano pepper seedlings in paper cups. I move them from east window to west window at midday and from west window to east window at night. I stare at them. I hope at them. My windowsills have not been warm the past few weeks. I know you can buy heaters and lights for these things. One could spend quite a pile of cash on seedlings. But I figure that if God needed shoplights and heaters to sprout seedlings, there would be no plants on Earth at all. So I wait. I wait and watch and sprinkle tiny dribbles of water and carry them back and forth across the house.

Finally, finally, I see those little miraculous, bending necks coming up out of the dirt. Now they have uncurled slender fingers of leaves, more slender than strands of embroidery floss. Will they ever turn into toothy, earthy, deep-green poblanos? How?

I imagine them already as chiles rellenos, filled with good Mexican cheese, rolled in a very light egg batter and fried. I can smell them roasting under the broiler. I can’t wait.

But, these unimaginably tiny seedlings tell me, I must wait. Wait and work and watch and hope. Except for the rhubarb, which seems to plot a takeover with its neighbor, the sizable oregano bush. But the rest of it is all an exercise in visualizing a green and fruitful future against the dirt-filled, empty now.

I am new to the garden and, for now, my faith is as small as a poblano seed.

—By Julie Vassilatos of Chicago, IL.


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