Poppy is four years old. The only shelf in the cabinet she can reach is the one with the plastic Tupperware. She has started filling containers with water, snapping on lids, and placing them about the house. It is her new favorite game. One for Mama, one for Papa, one for Tessa, one for Ollie. Her hands can hold one at a time. Her dress is the color of marmalade. She chirps songs that have no words.
When Poppy is twenty-five, she will follow a love to France. In the summer time she will make jars of cold tea, place them in the sun to steep, and forget them in the sunny corners of their house. He will love her for this. That, and the daisies in her hair; the way she reads in doorways, purring show tunes to the crinkle of the page.
When she is forty-seven, Poppy’s garden will be the talk of the street. Her French tulips will dip over the sidewalk, dragging leaves against the pavement. She will carry jugs of water—overflowing onto her arms, her overalls—back and forth from the house to the yard. This is her way now, since her son has worn holes through the garden hose with his trike. She does not mind. He rides circles around the jugs, while she sings and turns the soil.
Eighty. And Poppy carries cups of water to leave around the house. One to the desk for while she is writing, one to her bedside every night. The walk to the kitchen is long and her lavender nightgown is thin. Open the cabinet, find the cup. Turn on the tap, fill it up. Snap on the lid, off to bed. She hums to the radiator. Sometimes she forgets the words.
Sarah Kay is a poet who often forgets where she left her tea. www.kaysarahsera.com