He had tended the garden
pruning stems and branches
with long-handled shears
melded to his hands.

He returned that winter,
cradling a plant
in a clay-colored pot,
a plaid sleeve dangling
where his left arm had been.

I want you to have this,
he said.
Since I can’t work no more.
Our hips touched
as we passed the fern,
standing still to stroke
the feathers of leaves.

The doc says he got it all, he said.
At least I think so.
Shrugging his shoulders
he said life wasn’t all bad
since he could still feel the fingers
on his missing hand.

Who knows, he mused.
Maybe my arm’ll grow back.
He twisted his torso
to wave his sleeve,
asking me to come see him
from time-to-time.

When trees burst with neon
I stopped by his trailer,
bringing flowers that erupted
from the wet inky dirt.

How’s that fern doing, he asked,
from a bed ringed with vines.
Look better than me?
His eyes turned blue green
when he wondered if the leaves
still leaned toward the light.

I bet it’s happy,
he said.
Just to be near you.
Flapping his stumps
he balanced with missing hands,
drinking through a straw
a nurse held to his lips.