I imagined her as a middle-aged woman, graying hair pinned up on her head to keep it out of the way while she tended the flowers, scooping fertilizer at the base of each one and sprinkling them with water from a green plastic can.  She had left her garden gate open, and it was as if the sun had slipped down from the cloud-choked sky to rest awhile beside her house.  The sunflowers bobbed in the breeze, turning this way and that in search of their beloved namesake.  A small brown sparrow landed on one, pecking at the seeds, and I wondered that contact with the brilliant bloom didn’t transform it into a phoenix.  Now middle-aged and graying myself, I try to recreate that garden of wonder, but the squirrels always dig up the seeds before they have a chance to sprout.


Phaeton risked all

To drive the sun’s chariot

That day showed me why

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—Nina Shepardson is a scientist who lives in the northeastern US with her husband. Her writing appears or is forthcoming in Devilfish Review, Allegory, and Page & Spine, among others. She also writes book reviews at Outside of a Dog.

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