Daffodils lined the back fence near the shed. A tomb
for a rusted-out Strawberry Shortcake bike. Grandma's broken garden tools.
Digging up her backyard with a tetanus-glazed hand trowel
—where I thought an old, porcelain bathtub was buried—
I pretended the daffodils were vintage telephones
connecting me to ghosts on the other end.
Daffodil roots-- a series of copper wires sending
electric tremors through the soil to another world.
Tapping the daffodil spathe to clear the line, I spoke
into its delicate, yellow cup: "Are you there?"
The stigma vibrated with my voice and
I told the ghost that answered about the tub.
I had only dug up a few inches of a glossy smooth strip. A hard, white ceramic.
I struck the trowel against it-- not hollow. The edge sunk further under the dirt.
Too much to dig. A bit of black trash bag stuck out from the dirt.
I confessed to the ghost on the daffodil line that I hoped it was a dead body.
Grandma yelled twice from her porch to come in for dinner.
"To dust we return," and my sweaty voice disconnected the line. I heard Grandma say that once.
Daffodils bloom along the sidewalks of the city.
No where near the bathtub at Grandma's house, where new people live, or
her grave site.
I pretend to know the ghost on the other end
of the single daffodil at the foot of my porch steps.
Its stem slightly bent from the wind like Grandma's shoulders.
I think about tapping the flower's spathe,
leaning in like a child again to whisper—this time— "Grandma, are you there?"
—the porch light, although always on, buzzes a little now;
I never unearthed that bathtub.
Carrie Redway is a writer and artist in Seattle. Her work is inspired by myth, folklore and familial ritual.
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