UHCL The Signal
The official student newspaper of the University of Houston-Clear Lake

LITERARY ARTS: ‘Grandma’s Garden’

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Contributed by: Janice Smith, almuna


Grandma’s Garden

-the musty-smell of wet earth, a white-washed tool shed, and Grandma’s garden.


A slender woman stands among the long, leafy vines. Dappled morning sun illuminates the straw hat crowning her head while the gentle southern breeze wisps at her henna hair, teasing locks from underneath the brim. The strands dance around her face and mingle with her skin. Padding along the dirt path, I am silent as I come upon her. Then wild doves stir to take flight. As they pass over, our eyes meet, and her face lightens with a warm smile. With a gentle nod she gestures towards a thick cluster of beans and prompts my help. “These are ready.” “Remember what I told you.” Watching her closely, I move deliberately to her rhythm while plucking at the bean plants. We pace beside one another,

-one old girl, -one young girl, -one garden.

      Before too long, the summer sun moves higher in the sky and the wind, as if gone into hiding, retreats. All red-faced and sweaty, we walk the harvest up the dirt footpath to the shade of the front porch. In the coolness behind the screens, I hear Grandmother’s knees creak and pop as she comes to rest in her wide wicker chair. To her right is a smaller chair. With aching hands, I rest beside her and sit in exhausted silence. Only the slightest sound of breathing is heard between us. Before rest overcomes her, she draws towards the baskets.

From between her soil-stained fingers comes a sound like rain on the window. The soft snapping of pods breaks the sun’s spell, and instantly I am drawn to her. Seated in her place and absorbed in her element, she is magnificent and beautiful.

The beat is steady like her heart.

The smell is heavenly like her soul.

Her basket is full and so am I.

      Sometimes I catch the smell of moist earth, or feel dust coat the back of my throat, and my mind returns to the garden. Long tendrils stirring from the touch of summer winds. Grandmother’s earthen hands pressing into the baskets. Mostly, I recall the sight of Grandmother with the harvest, working among the yield. She calls me into the bounty and in doing so she calls me home.