Clean cold floor-slabs of cast concrete,
by Rod Mendieta
The garden tooling section aisles brimming
With special offers of shining spades
And watering hoses,
I'm conforted to see my father walking
His brisk long strides beside me.
The flower-girl flashes her morning-lit smile
And motions a languid hand
Towards a heavy padlocked door.
We follow with hesitating deference
While she turns her bare white calves
Sculpted of soft ivory
From distant equatorial coasts,
Quite sure, I imagine, of having immediately
Drawn the admiring stares of two grown men
Who didn't ask for flowers in the first place.
She fumbles with a bundle of keys
And her calves turn crystalline
Now resembling amber coloured glass
Lovingly blown by a Murano artisan
And showing curiously mutating streaks
Of white light in the core,
Like poured milk flowing slowly
Through warm honey.
Rather than think that this surely
Is no ordinary flower-girl
I wonder instead what business has she
Drawing us to a no-man's land
Somewhere in the bowels of a big store
Away from the prying eyes
Of bumbling Sunday customers
And their silly questions.
Then a white, empty, concrete room
With tiny windows much too high towards the ceiling
And I already half expect the short shelf-life
Patience of my father to be tried to the limits
Standing on my toes I manage to sneak
A furtive look into an ordinary vegetable orchard
With glistening lettuces and tomatoes,
Rosemary and basil swaying in quiet rapport.
‘Nothing that will interest us here', says father
And I dread the approach of one of his trademark
Caustic remarks he gleefully throws at
Unsuspecting interlocutors like thorns from the
Blowpipe of a peevish little kid.
‘Perhaps you had hoped to become privy
To the secrets of the dead? '
I anticipate her flustered reply,
Like many others I've heard before,
From tiny little humans being stared down
By a superior being:
‘Nothing of the sort', her face transfixed
With embarrassment, jinxed, robbed
Clean of the ability to articulate further apologies.
I turn to look but father has already walked
Out of my sunny winter morning
Through clean aisles of cold floor-slabs
Leaving my mouth pregnant with
Unspoken words and my heart
Sinking fast into quiet desperation.
Then the flower-girl appears
Quite oblivious to anything heard or said,
Flashing her morning-lit smile at me,
"Peruvian Lilies putting on quite a show today".