By Montana Elder
When the sun grew large over the fields,
we plucked purple berries from their
vines. We shoved them to the backs of
our teeth and sucked the juice from our
fingertips; my grandmother stood by the
cow’s fence washing fresh tomatoes with
a garden hose.
We stuck carrots through the holes in the
fence for the dirty brown workhorses to eat in
the field. In the driveway we wrestled with
the hoses that escaped and searched the walls
like vines, only to be swatted away by the tips
of fingers. Mom took pictures when we still
showed our teeth.
I stuck my hands between purse zippers with soft- toothed
metal, played dress up with my mother’s old panty-hose,
and then panicked when my hasty inner child shoved
fingers through the nylon. I caught these moments and
filed them into the seams of my thoughts to keep them safe
from vines, so when the truth came out I only poked it
through the fence.
My grandfather’s room was grey like soot and fenced off in
the furthest corner of the hospital where his christmas wreath
hung on his door. My grandmother tried to kill the Ivy on
the outside of her house with clippers and then a power hose.
They all nodded because the doctors he had were the best in
the field and the nurse who did his IV’s had steady fingers.
On the way home from the hospital, they interlocked fingers
and slowed down as we drove through the trees and past the
fence. We watched the wind whip the corn stalks in the field
and felt the jaws of winter closing in around us with pointed
teeth. My grandmother put the tractors in the barn and balled
up the hoses, and when the first snow fell thick and fast it
covered up the vines.
My father brought the christmas tree in, and the cold pine
needles hovered over the floor, pointing like worn out fingers
to my grandfather and his oxygen tank hose that circled the
bottoms of his chair like the bars of a fence meant to keep us
children thinking about the time we spent in the field.