Flowers Out of Bone

Photo of Ethel Morgan Smith

by Ethel Morgan Smith

Chapter 1

            “Mom, I can only imagine how hard this has been on you.” Emma touches my left shoulder. Flutters of butterflies float toward the magnolia trees.

            “One thing for sure, I am not going to cry. No more tears for Bone.” I wipe my eyes with my cold hands.

            “I know. But it’s okay if you do. Just remember, no matter what they say or do, it’s from a place of love.” Emma wraps her arm around my waist. I smile and try to feel thankful.

            “Emma, there’s a live oak, and what I believe is a pin oak.” I point toward the trees. My hand shakes a little, but my heart is steady.

            “Where’d you learn all this? I can barely tell the difference between a pine and a maple.”

            “Look at those big leaves. On the inside, they’re velvety. And the bark on the outside is black, but on the inside, it’s yellow as daffodils. Some folks actually call it yellow oak,” I pick up a leaf from the ground and show my daughter.

            “Did Big Mama teach you all this?” Emma asks.

            “She loved flowers and anything to do with nature. And Aunt Honey too. I want you to get to know her. We used to plant together. Those were my best lessons, learning about the most natural beauty on earth. Oh, how I envy the flowers.”

            “Where was I?”

            “A toddler. Running through our flower beds, or hanging out with Beauty and making mud pies.” I laugh.

            “I still love playing in the dirt. I can’t imagine Gram making mud pies. Big Mama would be so proud of you turning something you love into a real business.”

            “Big Mama introduced me, but now they’re a part of me like a body part. She always wore a big straw hat and her garden apron, as she called it. When we’d finished, she’d wipe her face and say, ‘We made de Good Lord smile on dis day.’ I move closer to Emma. “She’d be just as proud of you, young lady. Look, Emma, there’s a white oak behind the elm.”

            “I know what an elm is, since there’s one in our yard in Atlanta,” Emma glows with the same pride I used to have when I correctly identified flowers for Big Mama.

            “Good eye.” I praise my daughter by squeezing her shoulder. We’re nearly the same height.

To be continued