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Phyllis Brotherton


Dear Tomato Plants,

I am striving to diligently take care of you, hopefully seeing you through to the bearing of fruit, which I have traditionally not been excellent at, in fact I sucked at, in all manner of nurturing endeavors from child-rearing to a pet canary named Mijo, clearly not equivalents, and clearly, there is more to this story. During Covid-19 sheltering-in-place, I decide to become a semi-gardener: two tomato plants and an indoor herb garden that tells me when to water and feed it.

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Dear Brunfelsia Pauciflora,

You are blooming for the first time in years, having made it through 110 degree summers and hard freezing winters, living on drip and no protection, without seeing much of me at all in the backyard, except lounging on the patio with a glass of wine. But, now? Miracle Gro? Personal, intimate watering sessions? Yes, believe it. A “Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow” plant, you were given to me by friends in 2008, when my mother died. This year, in self-isolation and waxing sentimental, I decide to nurture you back to health, also unearthing my mother’s pearl earrings and wearing them for two straight weeks, a kind of Lent leading up to Mother’s Day.

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Dear Denise,

Last night in bed as we are drifting off to sleep, I look at you and say, “I am so sick of cooking!” Then I clarify, “I mean, I am so sick of eating my own cooking.” This is in stark contrast to the first month of lockdown, when I relish tackling new recipes, revisiting old ones, and baking bread: whole wheat, sourdough, focaccia, pizza dough, no knead, knead, anything utilizing yeast. I heretofore had not purchased yeast since before we were married, over twenty-five years ago. So many cookies, cakes, new soups, imaginative salads; I even dust off the BBQ grill. (I could write a letter to the BBQ grill, but first, we really should be properly introduced.) Now, almost three months in? I’m sick of cooking, baking, grilling – all of it. Though we both know we won’t enter a restaurant for a long time to come, the lifting of California shelter-in-place orders notwithstanding, we agree that after Memorial Day, Mediterranean food or yummy greasy takeout tacos are definitely in order.

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Dear Gym,

I miss you like an old lover.

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Dear Stomach,

You scare me.

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Dear Wine,

You are now officially no help at all.

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Dear Grim Reaper,

I refuse to throw in the towel, no matter how much a certain part of the population believes the Boomer generation to be expendable.

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Dear Donald Trump,

Come on over. We’ll social distance on the patio. I’ll make the best iced tea spiked with Hydroxychloroquine. Your favorite, right?

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Dear Election Day 2020,

Please happen.

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Dear All,

Hang in there. Never lose hope. Be safe. Stay well. Vote.

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All images other than author photos and artist artwork ©Matthew Batt 2020