Illustration by Annli Nakayama

Sunflowers

Remember 
when I kneeled in the dirt
and weeded for you
in the summer?
My knees were dirt-specked and sore,
but yours were untouched.
I watched you work
with unrelenting efficiency
somewhere else in the backyard,
as if from a distance.
Maybe you were in the planters,
where you tried to nurture life
and half succeeded.
Nature was too free for you.
Our front yard was bursting
with wild sunflowers
whose seeds you had sown years ago.
You let them grow each year,
then dug them out in the fall.
Still they grew back.
Maybe you let them
because they hid the house
from the neighbors’ stares.
Maybe because they never 
asked for water like I did;
the desert rains were enough for them. 
I would have lived off rain if I could. 
Instead, I begged for bread and water.
Bread and water you gave me, for a while.
You let me grow tall and fragile,
then pulled me out.
I never returned to that soil.

—Charlotte Wakefield is a sophomore in Grace Hopper College.

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