Photosynthesis / by Maribeth Theroux

I took my African violet
for a walk. 
It doesn’t get enough sun. 
I fashioned
a greenhouse
out of Saran wrap
to keep it warm. 

A short walk
to the drug store
and back.
The woman
at the register
said, “Is that a flower?” 
And, “Are you going
to plant it?” 
But I don’t have a yard. 
And African
violets can’t live in our soil. 
(“Our cold
New England
I seem to remember Grammy
telling me that. 

I took a picture of the Magnolia tree on St. Nicholas
and 150th. They only bloom for a couple of days and then they’re gone. 
I learned that the hard way— 
the way you look at where the blossoms used to be
and they’re gone. 

I printed out the picture of the blossoms
and wrote Grammy a note: 
“Reminds me of the big one in your yard
on Dwight Road.” 

Then I got scared. Scared the note would make Grammy
too upset. Too nostalgic for the big one she no longer has, 
in the yard she no longer has, attached to the house
someone else has. 

Grammy is named Mary, 
Mom is named Marianne, 
and I’m named Maribeth. 
There’s no connection, I don’t think, 
except there is. 

Maybe it’s Mom’s fault. She left the rose bushes
in the side yard on Old Farm Road
thinking the new owners would appreciate them,
but they didn’t. We drove past the old yard, 
the old house, and they’d been removed. 
Every last bush. 

Once I wrote a poem about
the daffodils. I think I titled it
“The Daffodils.” I was considering
the daffodils on Bugbee Road. 
I don’t tend them anymore, 
I don’t live there anymore, 
but I still think they’re mine. The other day
Mom and I drove up the driveway
and the daffodils were blooming. 
I wanted to say, “My daffodils are blooming.” 
But I thought she’d be offended. 
I thought she’d say, “You haven’t done
anything for those ‘dils in fifteen years.” 

We don’t think the flower on top of the cactus is real. 
We think the man at the pet store
glued it on top to make it pretty. If the cactus dies
we’ll know for sure. The plant will be withered, 
the plant will be brown, 
but the flower will be so pink.






Maribeth Theroux has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and once played Kelly Kapowski in Bayside! The Musical.  Her poems have appeared in Hobart, Barrelhouse, Armchair/Shotgun, and Forklift, Ohio, among other places.  She lives in Pasadena with her husband and their cat.