“Maggie’s Postcard” by Steve Simmerman

My father’s postage stamp garden sits off the front porch
where he grows green beans, tomatoes, carrots,
hot peppers that hang like fat, bent fingers.
He fertilizes the tired soil with bluegill heads,
the innards of gutted trout come spring.
When I was a child he let me plant watermelon seeds;
one swelled on the vine like magic that summer
and I was young enough to believe it
but I never inherited his green thumbs,
his ability to make things grow where they shouldn’t
like in the backyard now where he’s showing me
the zucchini and pumpkin blossoms the color of taffy,
the vines stretching across rocks, broken glass
when a car pulls up to the house behind us and a man
rises from it like a ghoul from a rusty crypt.
“That’s a heroin house,” my father says.
“I could never raise you kids in this town, now.”
But the man knocking on his dealer’s door is about my age
and like me he already grew up here.

By Richard L. Gegick