Her fingers were always crooked
Bent and twisted, bones protruding at awkward angles
Dipped in wax
She’d let me play too if I did the dishes first
Smelling of sweet menthol
Pale green drops to sooth a ragged throat
I lived with her for the summers
No place left to go
Tissues stuffed in between breasts and bra and shirt
Sitting on a porch that housed orchids on tepid plastic lunch trays
The orchids bloomed every few months
“That’s special,” she’d say.
Shoots green and strong springing up from darker, thicker leaves
skinny, bending roots curving in and out of terracotta planters
Intertwining with each other, almost touching each other across the distance
Trying to form some kind of chain
She’d gingerly pour water onto the rocks lining the tray underneath the roots
“To help with the humidity, you see,” she’d say.
She’d play with me when the boredom became unbearable
Four channels were never enough
Grumbling–she’d push out the metal board with the rolling marbles
all colors because the good ones were lost.
Sometimes I would sit on the porch and stare at the orchids buds pushing open
towards the sunlight, leaning into the moisture
My fingers grazed the soft petals
And she swiped my hand “You’ll break them,” she’d say.
I ‘d draw my hand away, curl my fingers towards my palm and go back to the room
with four channels, away from the porch, on the side of the house, not near the sun