My Grandmother’s Flower Garden

Blooming sweet peas

The scent of sweet peas, a vintage tin full of assorted buttons, French toast with butter and icing sugar and my grandmother’s touch between my eyebrows, rubbing away my five-year-old troubles.

July sun on snapdragons, pansies and marigolds. She teaches me the names of flowers and how to nurture beauty. Later, at her kitchen table, we play I spy with my little eye and then she lets me guess her thoughts so I think I’m psychic. I fall asleep on the living-room floor under a pink comforter while she watches Johnny Carson and does her crossword puzzle.

Hidden money and notes, gathering up loose thoughts in a journal. She must have been so scared. Chronologies scrambled and names of simple items forgotten: salt shaker, coffee filter and dish soap.

No longer a child in my grandmother’s garden, I tell her the names of the flowers she planted—snapdragons, pansies and marigolds. I tell her my name. If I brought her sweet peas, would she remember her own name?

Four decades between me and my grandmother’s fingertips on my face, but she still makes me feel safe. My grandmother’s touch, Oil of Olay scent, and her telepathic, magical love. The last time I saw her, she had a glint in her Irish eyes when she said I know you.

—Candice G. Ball

#TBT Poem

This is the first poem I published in a literary journal. This piece appeared in Grain in 1992. Under the influence of Lorna Crozier, I wrote this poem at the tender age of 21. I studied with her in my second year of university. She assigned my class a prose poem and the following poem is what I submitted:

men love women love men

Some men love bisexual women others love straight women who scream during sex, who leave tiger marks on their backs other men love women who wear black tank tops in the middle of the winter & dance on speakers in nightclubs  & some men love women with wild blonde hair, jeans that don’t lie, and kiss-me-red lips some men love women who write poetry about violence & sex others love women who give head and swallow

Women love men who won’t ask when the threesome is   other women love men who look at their faces during sex and kiss them & women with large breasts love men who notice the colour of their eyes other women love men who won’t talk of old lovers like a stamp collection & some women love men who won’t let them say fuck in the bedroom & women poets love men who read between the lines.

–Candice G. Ball