This school year closes by shovelfuls.
I spend hours in the garden.
Turning earth and ashes,
burned leaves under themselves,
I count my losses:
Early girl tomato
dead-headed by a deer
after its yellow flowers.
The camellias are a love song
for the lucky; the succulents
find a way back to water,
I add the losses:
A colleague to cancer,
a teacher so beloved
former students hoped
their children would have him.
He sent me music videos
during the pandemic:
we can dance if we want to.
I lost a student to a sleeper wave
off Davenport.
He wore his
cross country bandana
Prefontaine style. His friend
now drives his late-model muscle car.
Memorial in chrome.
I still have the written word:
The paragraphs
in the cloud.
Another turn: My hands in dirt.
Life goes on.
I’m not sure how.

Jennifer Ruby is a writer and teacher living in Northern California. Her work appears in Sugar House Review, the Porter Gulch Review, and the PEN Center/Rattling Wall anthology Only Light Can Do That, among others. She earned her MFA in poetry at San Diego State and is a contributing editor for Harpy Hybrid Review.

Appears In

Issue 20

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