By Halle Murcek
I kept the aloe plant on top of the microwave, housed in a little ceramic pot painted with sunflowers, fine lines of yellow and orange, dots of brown and black so meticulous they could only be painted by hand. The kitchen got just enough sunlight to feed our plant, our “love fern” as I jokingly called it, at first. It was no coincidence to me that my own grandmother grew them as well as my boyfriend’s mother, both of which had such similar qualities it was uncanny: the need to nurture, a green thumb, an abundance of recipes, the best baked goods, always warm, soft and rich, a kitchen always emitting some kind of luxurious smell that would soon take over your palate. Remedies of hearty homemade broths that simmer for hours, jars of dried tea leaves, baskets of fresh vegetables from a garden, bottles of lightly scented lotions and oils to always keep their skin as soft as half melted butter. The need to nurture.
The fleshy green body of our plant was still young but already stealthy. I liked to think having greenery around kept my lungs healthy, recycled the old stuff I inhaled and exhaled through the apartment. I imagined oxygen swirling and undulating like the clouds on a weather map you saw on the news.
Nick would meander into the kitchen each morning, sleepy-eyed, bare chested and stunningly pale, stretching toward the light that came in bands through the blinds. With his toothbrush in his mouth he would approach the pot and press his callused fingertips into the soil, black as the grit permanently imbedded beneath his short fingernails from working long ours over a grill, feeding it, tending it then scrubbing it clean. Continue Reading…