Back yard corner of my mother’s home, hot tea in hand, time just before my writing class to drink it, to soak up the small arm of these foothills that wraps itself around the cul-de-sac here. If I could be anywhere in the world I might choose to be beneath the down blankets in my Palm Springs bed, the San Jacintos spread before me, the white crowned sparrows making their quiet sounds beneath the bougainvillea in the corner of the courtyard and the sense that my mother was well and sleeping at home with her cat. But this corner is good, too, my pen moving across the page, the sun just high enough now in the southern sky to send shafts of light through the leafless branches of the liquid ambers. I sip my yerba maté and pray, a kind of almost-peace descending.
There are liquid amber sprouting everywhere. I dream of transplanting them, a row of pots along the cinder block wall, gifts for people I know, for people I have never met. I dream of sending trees out into the world, a sweetness for the planet, a tiny antidote for global warming. On Thursday I am watering by hand. The foot-tall liquid amber in the side yard is gone. Almost every one of them are gone. Rinaldo has taken them all. I didn’t think to tell him not to. He’s never touched them in all these months. I can’t stop crying. “They were so happy,” I say. I keep saying it over and over. “They were so happy.” Not just my dream of them gone, but their companionship. I feel as if my last friend on earth has been taken from me. I can’t stop crying. I know I am not crying only for them. But days later, I still grieve.