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Time to Transplant

After my parents passed away, my husband and I took on the sad and challenging task of sorting through their belonging accumulated during their 37-year residence in my childhood home, an old, wood-frame house surrounded by flower beds, set on a quarter-acre lot on a gravel road in a suburb west of Detroit.

My parents, children of The Great Depression, had a use-what-you-have mindset and threw away little. They never knew when they might need a hundred Ball canning jars, a bent nail (stored in one of many overflowing coffee cans), or a part from a broken appliance.

The City Building Inspector deemed the place unfit for sale due to the many code violations. Before we put it on the market, my electrician brother-in-law spent hours in its crawl space re-wiring the scary-dangerous electrical system. We laid asphalt over the packed-dirt driveway, and dismantled the chicken coop and storage sheds my father built when the barn-like garage became packed to the rafters. We kept a few prized items, but much of what they possessed we sold at an estate sale.

A few days before we transferred the house to its new owner, we lingered near a front flower bed where in 1968 my father, who served in WWII, had erected an 18-foot flag pole. When I was a child, every Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and on most weekend mornings, up went the Stars and Stripes. My father had embedded the base of the pole in concrete, its surface decorated with my handprint and a pawprint of our cat, Flag, named for his white-tipped tail. It was our very own Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.

My husband tapped the concrete with his toe. “We can’t leave this behind.”

He grabbed a shovel and dug up the chunk of concrete that he says probably weighs 5,000 pounds and lugged it to our Northern Michigan cottage. It stayed there 20 years until last fall when it was time to say good-bye to that chapter of our real estate history. Again, my husband found a shovel and started digging. Now the flag pole base (the pole long gone) rests on its side, waiting for us to determine where it should be transplanted next.

Flag pole contrete base. Photo by Diana Dinverno

When time comes that we no longer have the space or ability to take it with us, we’ll have my poem “The Twilight Gardner” published in Peninsula Poets, Vol. 68-2, Fall Contest Edition, 2011:

The Twilight Gardener

He poured a puddle

of concrete

to capture the prints.

Don’t wiggle, he cautioned

splayed fingers

pressing the grainy ooze.

Using a twig

from the Silver Maple,

he etched the year

on the rough circle

planted in a brimming bed

tended at twilight.

For decades, he’d say, Look here,

parting blooms of sky-blue iris

to reveal little hands,


of his finest collaboration

with nature.

Now, he kisses

the palms

of the grown-up hands,

with seed and soil

in the furrows

of his heart,

takes his spade

and digs peony,

lilac, fern,

and the bouquet

of eight-year-old fingers

for transplant to another garden.

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