Arboresce | Sharon Osmond
Sharon Osmond is a retired garden designer. Her own Oakland garden, small and urban, is intensively planted with trees, tall shrubs, and flowering grasses. It has become a safe refuge for both resident and migrating birds. Although the residing cat, formerly feral, spends most of his time in the garden, he is old, overweight, and too lazy to pay attention to the wildlife that surrounds him.
There was laundry in the morning. Four clotheslines and a rectangle of coarse cropped grass. Girls ran back and forth in the afternoon. Their faces red in wind. By four o’clock during those years, there was always wind. On hazy days, the sun was also red. Red was an afternoon word. It was a word for the end of a dirt road where the red man stood. Bearded. Beckoning. Adam.
There had been no rain for three years. The watermark on the vertical face of the dry creek bank was red also. Bloodline. Ruddy godline. Some birds still lived in that cut. They had white circles on their under-wings, marking them for extinction.
Why is she at the center of this? I cannot remember her face. That of my mother. Her photograph hangs on my wall, but perhaps it is not her face.
A manikin stands among garden-trees. She turns toward the west where horizon reddens. It is her face I think of.
A bank and a sprawl of willows. Hapless birds.
Sometimes, the sound of feet on the path. Of crinoline on a wood floor.
She planted irises once in the fall. The sad salt pause of that season. Of her heaped skirt in the corner.