I raised that spider plant from a sprig snipped
from my first landlady’s kitchen a decade before.
I lived in her attic, in a room the shape and color
of a stick of butter stretching the entire length
of her twin brick townhouse
I kept the little fingerling in a jar of water
until it sprouted roots, then transferred it
to a planter cradled in a sling of strung
cowry shells that I hung from the ceiling
of my next two apartments.
Then she came along, blazing and blinding
and before I knew it we had crammed a U-Haul
full of my belongings and sped to where she lived
in Culver City.
The intrepid plant rode on the dash,
next to the one-eyed sock monkey I’d sewn myself
from a kit. When we finally made it
to Los Angeles, we were spent and left the U-Haul
parked on the street, planning to return it
the next day. I left the spider plant there
overnight, never suspecting that a single day
in the sun beneath the windshield
would be enough to fry it to a crisp.
I was more devastated than I should have been
Maybe subconsciously I recognized that this was
an omen, that this was only the first of the things
I’d dragged along for three thousand miles
that would wither in the gaze of the unblinkingCalifornia sun.