Prize Fighter

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Into a hole in our yard deep
enough to bury a body, my son dumps
eggshells, onion skins, biodegradable
scraps, uses a shovel to churn

the debris like a sailor rowing
in a hurricane. Watching him,
I almost forget the hurt inflicted
by a troubled teen, remember

him as a child playing in a sandbox,
the 3-year-old I once lost at the park
and knew I would die to find. Forbidden
by his father to use the car after another

failed drug test, he asks me to drive
him to Orange County Farm Supply
where I offer up my credit card
like an oblation to pay for various

seedlings, fragrant herbs such as thyme
with leaves as tiny as my trust
after too many of his sly lies.
Though I expect the garden

to be just another whim like the guitar
and his grades, the plants flourish—
his favorite a ten-foot tomato
vine he calls the Prize Fighter.

But the real prize are the meals
he creates: eggplant, okra, sugar
snap peas sautéd with pasta,
broccoli, carrots, peppers over rice.

I savor every bite, relish the soothing
smell of basil, knowing this is as close
as he’ll ever arrive to that illusive
ninth step, making amends

This article was published originally in 2016, in GreenPrints Issue #106.


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