Auto Bulk, Being Laod, Iu-Mien and Khmu, Janit Von Saechao, Lao Diaspora, Literature and Writing, National Poetry Month, Poetry
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My Grandmother’s Garden

My chubby, dirt-stained fingers reach
into the bag of old pinto beans found at the back
of my grandmother’s bottom kitchen cabinet.

I drop two
into each of the freshly poked holes
towards the corner of the weed-riddled
grass plot in our backyard.

Sloppily, I scoot dirt back over them,
drench the soft earth with hose water
staying long enough to see it soak into the soil.

Grandma shouts at me to come downstairs.
Tells me to hurry up, says there’s something I need to see.

“Mangc gaax naaiv!”

My small bare feet smack the tacky linoleum floor as I race to her side.

Under the shadow of her pink garden hat I see her beaming.
She opens her hands to reveal
seven strands of green beans
striped purple, maroon, red

She cooked them that night for dinner —
first, vegetable oil in the pot
then salt
minced garlic
thai chili
and seven green beans
as she bragged on the phone about my
newfound, natural gardening ability

Grandma’s hands always made things grow.
From my round, brown body
to her backyard jungle

She fed us through that garden with
chive scrambled eggs after long days at school
pickled plums and fish sauce drenched fingertips in the summer
bamboo shoots and
bitter orange berries and
flowering cilantro

She healed us through that garden with
herbs I still don’t know the names of
wrapped tightly around my delicate sprained ankles
pressed firmly against our scrapes and burns
always ready with a remedy
whether heartburn or heartbreak

Today I came home with new houseplants
all together, making twelve
two identical to those found in her home

I talk to them
tell them stories
tell them I love them as I watch them grow

I am reminded of my grandmother who
tills the soil of her life
spreads her seeds
waters abundantly
and sows and sows and sows.

And I have hope that my hands can one day show
the same magic of life that she has grown in me

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