by Sharmagne Leland-St. John
   (after the watercolour by Susan Dando)

Five of you
came in from the garden
to brighten our day.

From the white ceramic vase
resting on its own reflection
on the glass topped table
in the corner
of the morning room,
will you still turn
your brown faces toward the sun?

When we were children
Maman created a sunflower house
in the back garden
of our chateau.

She planted seven sunflower seeds
in a long row a few feet
from the white picket fence
separating the kitchen garden
from the rose beds
with their fragrant blooms.

Then she sowed another fourteen
coming straight out
from the first row.

Seven on either side.
Then two more on each end
to form a closure to this square
with an opening in the centre
for a door.

Next we planted morning glory seeds
blue and pink,
from a paper Ferry-Morse packet,
next to each black and tan sunflower seed
and into the loamy spaces in between.

The rains came,
the sunflower seeds sprouted,
as did the morning glories.

by May the sunflower stalks
were tall and hardy.

The morning glories began
to climb the stalks,
forming leafy walls
with colourful buds
of trumpet-shaped flowers.

Maman tied string back and forth,
weaving a web
from side to side,
just below each sunflower head.

The morning glories' green tendrils
found the string, coiled and twined,
inched along the string
until they created a roof
over our sunflower house.

Sabine and I spent the summer
inside our sunflower house,
lying on a turf of tufted Irish moss,

dreaming of the young women
we would soon be.


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