His tomato plants teach me how to love him, even in his absence. I have been collecting my father for years. Pieces of him. But the tomato seeds, he sent in a fold of paper, taped together like a tiny envelope with the seeds tucked in the pocket.
The seeds I gave over to my husband, so he could bury them in the soil. And now I resent him for taking them from me. But he’s the gardener in our house.
My seeds, the ones I bought at the nursery remain in packets. Sometimes, I spill a few on my desk, just to examine their hard outer shell, the ridges and seams. I try to imagine the plant breaking out of it.
I wonder, too, how much time my father has left, with the cancer growing in the soft sack they call a lung. On an anatomy chart shows that inside they have branches with sprigs at their ends.
Today, one of my father’s tomato seeds sprouted, a tender leaf reaching from rich black soil.