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An Ordinary Life

07.16.18 Posted in today's words by

Christine Taylor, a multiracial English teacher and librarian, resides in her hometown Plainfield, New Jersey.  She serves as a reader and contributing editor at OPEN:  Journal of Arts & Letters.  Her work appears in Modern Haiku, apt, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, The Rumpus, and The Paterson Literary Review among others.  She can be found at

An Ordinary Life
By Christine Taylor

I’ve had an ordinary life. Growing up, I did homework,
gagged on lima beans and rice, yearned to play kickball
under the streetlights. At least six other kids from my block
would write this same story. Other people’s mommas too
had gardens. When my father finally had a tow truck
pull the rusted carcass of his white Cadillac out of the corner
in the backyard where it had sat for years, Mom planted
a garden in the empty space where no grass grew. Hardy
tomatoes first, then cucumbers, lettuce, peppers. She put up
a fence to keep the bunnies from nibbling delicate leaves.
My sister and I must have been instructed to pull weeds,
but really, I can’t remember. What I do remember: Mom
on her knees, trowel in hand, laying a new row of seedlings.
Her fingers pat the loose dirt firm. Wearing floral-patterned
gloves, she picks ripe tomatoes from the vine. Later, sprinkled
with salt and black pepper, tomatoes sliced on our dinner
plates. Now, it’s been decades, Mom is gone, the space
in the yard a pit of poison ivy. I should plant a garden:
get down on my knees, sink my hands into the earth,
rise with dirt caked under my fingernails.

One Response to “An Ordinary Life”

  1. billgncs says:

    At the end of the day, what better thing can we do in the world than plant a garden. Your mom was a wise woman.

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