We watched the pumpkin vines shrink until they nearly disappeared. Three days of headaches, then on a Saturday morning wake to find you can only smile with the left side of your face, can’t blink or close your right eye, speak like someone with his mouth full, bite your lip trying to eat, relearn some habits. We popped the pumpkins off the vines, even the ones that had grown over the fence into the neighbor’s paddock, piled them on the porch, planted more lettuce, beets, carrots. Shopkeepers treat you too kindly, like maybe you’re an idiot. Or are you projecting? The whole garden had a kind of tired, morning-after wrinkled look, an unmade bed. You figure it’s a stroke. Nothing that exciting, the ER doctor says, holding the cat scan like he’s come off the mountain. An inflamed nerve pressing bone. Two weeks of ear and nerve pain, a month of dizziness and fatigue, then just a face sort of leaning down and to the right. What’s a face? Only who you’ve been. Your wife does all the dishes, shoos you back to the couch when you try to help. It’s one thing to be lazy, another to have laziness thrust upon you. A matter of waiting. Will the lettuces survive the frost, the beets take root, the broccoli produce, the chickens go back on the lay? Nothing to do but let time take its time. Two months, the world half-frozen. You offer it half a grin. Your wife, patiently mulching rows, looks for signs of life. Anything’s possible. You keep one eye open.
AboutA poet and fiction writer, I moved with my wife to New Zealand from the United States in 2004 to teach creative writing. This blog deals with some thoughts on that experience. It will teach you absolutely nothing useful about gardening and, in fact, will probably harm any such efforts. However, if you're interested in my poems, stories and/or my four books, visit me at http://bryanwalpert.com