Stork Magazine Issue 32 (Spring 2022)

Page 41

Joan, Existing in the Hours of Daisies and Sunflowers

by Tanya Cliff Illustration by Katherine Fitzhugh Five

When Joan is five years old, Grandpa Joe leads her outside to his garden, where the sunflowers stand tall and bend at the top like gentlemen nodding. Even on her tiptoes, arm stretched to the sky, she cannot touch their faces. Grandpa Joe hands one to her. She cradles it in her arms like a baby. The petals remind her of the silky edge of her blanket. Joan and Grandpa Joe hide in the garden rows between the tomato plants, avoiding a sink full of dirty dishes and an overgrown lawn. Grandpa Joe gives her a cherry tomato, deep red and warm from the morning sun. She dislikes tomatoes and asks if he has any carrots. “The only carrots I ever grew were the stringy ones that came out the top of my head,” he says. His hair is white, soft, and wispy, leaving her as the 41