Sunday Morning


My mother’s need for order has nothing to do with the chaos of a life with too little space and too little money and almost no chance to make something beautiful of it all. The chance to create loveliness is always waiting just past the door of our matchbox rental. She never prepares for gardening—no special gloves, no rubber garden clogs, no stiff canvas apron with pockets for tools. No tools, most of the time. She steps out of the house—or the car, setting her bags down before she even makes it to the door—and puts her hands in the soil, tugging out the green things that don’t belong among the green things that do. Now another bare square of ground appears, and there is room for marigold seeds, the ones she saved when last year’s ruffled yellow blooms turned brown and dried to fragile likenesses of themselves. The light bill might be under the covers at the foot of her bed, the unsigned report card somewhere in the mess of papers on the mantel, but she can always put her hands on last year’s seeds. And later, in the summer, the very ground she walks on will be covered in gold.

~ Margaret Renkl, from “My Mother Pulls Weeds, Birmingham, 1978,” Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss


Photo: Cindy Garber Iverson

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