The husband brings home a vase filled
with white daisies because he knows his wife
likes surprises, and there have been so few
lately. The vase is clear with internal
cracks that don’t quite run through
the entire side. He had joked with the cashier
that he hoped it would hold water, which
it does as his wife fills it and places it
in the middle of the kitchen island.
The vase bereft of flowers finds its way
to a bookcase in a guest bedroom,
where the wife sometimes gets away and
reads classics she meant to read when younger:
Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre. She notices
it is dusty so she takes it to the hall
bathroom and rinses it, wiping the smooth glass
with a blue hand towel. She smiles remembering
her husband’s warm smile. It has been a year since
he passed away from a heart attack.
The woman’s niece is boxing up belongings
for a yard sale, tells a neighbor that her
aunt is adjusting to assisted living:
no room for all this stuff. The vase
sells quickly to an artist who uses it
for a still-life filled with orange tulips,
then sets it on his table where it collects
dried brushes and rubber bands from the mail.
He one day empties it before driving west
to visit his mother, his rusting hatchback full of gas
and packed with his annual stock of paintings.
His mother takes the vase and smiles widely.
She begins to transfer lilies and gardenias
from a cheap green vase to this new one,
stopping to discuss all the baking she has done:
sugar cookies with white icing in their
respective tins for family and neighbors,
peanut butter fudge just for him, and
a pecan pie resting next to the oven.
He shows her the painting of the tulips and
she carries it into the dining room.
She takes down a painting of sailboats
and asks her son to hang it right there.