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Red

Patricia Bender

The smell of geraniums fills the room although there is not a one in sight. We remember how geraniums reached and reached for the sweet potato vines curling on the windowsill above, some thirty years ago. One day long after the vines vanished, we found a flowerpot, cracked on two sides, holding brittle, brown geraniums. We dropped the cracked pot into a slightly larger one, not wanting to disturb the tomb, and poked the grey soil with popsicle sticks still stained red. We fed the small bed of twisted twigs and curled leaves little bits of water. Drops of water. Like you would feed a baby robin. Before we went to bed each night, we asked the plant to bloom. And then on a morning that could have been ordinary, it did. Today, in my hunt for red thread, I find, in the bottom of the sewing basket, a brittle bank envelope. The kind of envelope the teller would pass to you when you cashed your paychecks on Fridays. The envelope, folded in three, has one word written on it in a handwriting I would recognize anywhere. It reads geraniums. I press the envelope between my palms and hear the hard seeds crackle. They have been waiting a long time and their patience will see us all through another winter.

Patricia Bender’s writing has been published by Beir Bua Press, Common Ground, Good Foot, LIPS, the Paterson Literary Review, Peregrine, Southword, and THE GREAT FALLS ANTHOLOGY. A National Writing Project Fellow, she serves on the Editorial Board of the New Jersey English Journal, and as a United Nations Volunteer online editor.