Snapshot #1: The Deck
In the morning, before it gets hot and the mosquitoes arrive, I visit my garden, wondering what I will find – who has died and who has grown tall. This is a new house to me. I struggle calling it my house, my home. I struggle accepting the gift of it, and the desire to make it my own. I moved in and each time we discuss a repair, or a project, each time we clean the garage or buy new sheets for the bed, he corrects me. “Our house,” He says. “Our bed” He says. But he never says “Our garden”.
The hours in my garden on the deck inspecting the pots for moisture and mold are mine. The geranium’s yellowed leaf exhausted booms are plucked to make room for another. When I prune the roses, a thorn pricked my thumb on the rose bush and caused my finger to get infected. I clone each plan, rooting them in endless jars, bags of potting soil, and reuse old pots, making new geranium and wandering Jews with their purple hearts. They hug the deck, hanging over the edges and through the railing. Yellow and orange sun flowers and Black Eyed Susans, and little blue forget-me-nots wave at me in the breeze. But the seeds I from my old house, the ones I brought with me, they will not sprout.
He pretends not to watch me, buried behind his newspaper and coffee. We share breakfast in a jungle. Sometimes, he even eats what I cook. And he sits quietly, listening, as I talk about each new bud I’ve noticed, or how the forget-me-nots are about to bloom. He knows it is what I need, that corner of “our house.”
Snapshot #2: Norris Dam
We went to Tennessee, leaving our Ohio River Valley. I took a picture from on top of the Norris Dam where you could see far down the valley and across far hilltops. He held my hand as we walked over the dam, even though he does not like to walk on bridges. What is this great expanse? Have I forgotten the flow and eb and flow of the rivers? Forgotten the oceans? Tides rise and fall, but have I forgotten the moon that pushes and pulls the tide inside of me.
There was a time when I could not see the waters flowing or the sky. Maybe I was afraid to look, or simply afraid to take my eyes off of the job, the kids, the Ex. Maybe I was afraid to take my eyes off the floor, afraid of stepping on eggshells in my own kitchen. In those days, the world had ceilings and rooms slamming doors and drawn curtains.
One day, I left that house, closed the door, turned out the lights, and handed the keys over. On that day, I saw the clouds and they looked like ocean floor through blue water. White sand like changing moods, rippling, and shifting with the waves. It was a day not unlike today, with the cloudbursts, and rainbows in-between.
From the dam, we could see Tennessee’s valleys and hills changing color in the shadow of the clouds. I cannot say that my rooms don’t have doors anymore, but here in the Ohio River Valley, the river flows southwest, and the clouds fly northeast. In the space between, I feel the breeze and smell the lightning and taste the rain. It is there I feel the sun and shiver a little in the night when autumn comes. It is there, planting wildflower seeds across my lawn, that I can breathe.
Alissa Sammarco is a writer and attorney who was drawn home to the Ohio River Valley after years in both the West and the South. She frequents the greater Cincinnati’s open mic scene and has had poems published in Sheila Na Gig Online, Black Moon Magazine, Lexington Poetry Month Anthology (2021 to be released in 2022), the online arts journal, AEQAI, and elsewhere. Work is anticipated to appear in Evening Street Review.