by Susan Barr-Toman

I’m outside bent under our beloved weeping cherry tree—the thing I want to keep, its delicate pink blossoms already disappeared this spring—pulling bright green weeds. They have surrounded her trunk, pushing up between her roots. I’ve never encountered these strange invaders, these garden jellyfish that cling to me. Their tendrils grab at my flesh, suck and stick, leaving welts in their wake. They want to climb up into my arms as I clear every last one.

We fall into a routine. A week or two passes, a good rain, and they return perhaps by seeds blown in over the fence from neglected yards of abandoned houses down the block. But what does their origin matter? They are here now. This is the way it will be, I’m convinced; they are an ongoing part of our new landscape. I learn to protect my skin, covering my hands, arms and legs. As I brush my gloved hand through them, they grab hold of me, their weak roots releasing, and they come along easily. Their seeds must be the same way, eager to be carried away to grow somewhere else, anywhere else, everywhere else. Each time I pull them from the earth, do they scatter more seeds? 

My husband is inside, upstairs, lying down, recovering from brain surgery. The latest organ invaded. The plumed seeds of cancer fluttering through his blood and spiking into this new soft terrain, sneaking in under the base of his skull. For today, the cancer is cleared from his brain. 

“It wants to survive,” he says, “just like me.”

Photo by Elaine with Grey Cats