On Tenderhooks

John Staughton
16 min readJul 13, 2020

The day’s first acts are in service to other things. The cat is pacing a shadow on the empty dish, and the succulents bow and beckon with timid thirst. I patrol the dewy beds outside, checking for dark dampness, offering a prayer of tea tree oil, filling water jugs with nutrients, noting which plants must be trimmed when I return. I press mulch into bare soil left cratered by rain.

I remove an ambitious hollyhock that would have cast shade within days. I drop the stalk in the dirt and imagine my father cringe at such sloppiness.