Little Flowers

With apologies to Denison Witmer

White is not surrender / despite what you’ve been told; / It’s clouds of hope…— Denison Witmer, “Little Flowers”

In the beginning, G-d created the Earth, & the heavens too. Or, as it says, the heavens, then the Earth. The order is consequential. Before death there must be life. Before rest, work. Before Earth, the Creator fashioned the heavens. Consequential. Order.

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On Fridays, my mother mixes water, flour, sugar, yeast, eggs. Time gives rise; the living fungus feeds. In my mother’s hands, the unfinished dough becomes braids. Before sunset, the braided bread’s white flesh turns brown, tempered by flame and heat. Yet what’s inside remains white as snow.

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In textbooks, photos of a distant Earth look grand. Mighty blue water silhouettes Terra of majestic green and white. When viewed at such great distance, there is no hint that below, brother fights brother. From space, one could be forgiven for forgetting that woman and man exist.

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My father missed his appointment. Now, he incessantly looks at the calendar, makes little marks to remind himself what day it is. Your father put the milk in the cupboard, my mother tells me. Today, he took tomorrow’s pills. One day he may forget my name.

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At the grocery, votives with saintly faces sit opposite a rack of Kleenex. St. Francis dances on a field of white wax. The birds and the deer stand beside him, cheerful, playful. I wish I could place my finger through his stigmata. To believe.


This piece is a creative nonfiction response to alto’s most recent The Tuesday Quotable.