Polite Dinner Conversation

Photo: © Stephane Cocke. All rights reserved.

You notice they keep plants in their living room.
Parlor palms and peperomia—
they are meant to make the space seem fresh;
to bring life into an otherwise manufactured environment.

Maybe they notice the creekbed in your walk or the cotton in your spine
because they ask you if you ever gardened before you came to the city.
Asked you if you had ever tried to keep a thing alive before.

You tell them no, not really—
but your father planted tomatoes and cucumbers and sunflowers,
and sweet olive and gardenias and wisteria,
and to this day the taste or smell of it all reminds you of sunlight.

They smile politely and sip their chardonnay.

You notice there are no green tomatoes on old newspaper
ripening on the kitchen windowsill—
just dust and empty moonlight.

Mary Beth Ashley is a young writer living in Jackson, Mississippi with her husband, Devon, and their large white cat, Milo. When not writing, you can find Mary Beth frequenting coffee shops, eating with her family, or begging her husband to finish the dishes.

Appears In

Issue 7

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