Nothing I plant lives. I have tried the indestructible: basil, mint, zucchini. “Be careful,” they tell me. “They will overrun your garden.” I kill them. I buy eggplant, tomato, chives, parsley. I buy aloe. They wilt in the sunlight, in the water-love, in the soil. I try again. I plant flowers. I raise beds. I buy pots. I touch them, they die.
My brother smashes a pumpkin in the yard. Pumpkins grow. My mother’s mutt eats the pumpkins before I can properly envy nature’s handiwork.
In the Arizona sun I have tiny successes: a small, hot pepper already growing when I buy the seedling. It turns red in my care, then gets knocked off the stem by the wind or a passing neighbor. I am convinced someone stole it, start developing a case around who could have taken in it. I find it on the ground. I leave it on my counter and it wrinkles before I can eat it.
Another: Two bright red tomatoes I am not sure if I have let over-ripen. I pick them and can’t convince myself to try them. “You’re not going to eat them?” My mother says. No. She pops them in her mouth. “Delicious!”
I move the plants to the shade, I lovingly wipe aphids from the underbellies of leaves, I dig wells into the potted dirt so I can direct the water to the root. They die. I procrastinate pulling them from the pots but leave them neglected; the monsoon rain brings back to life a basil plant I’ve left untended for months.
Pots sit empty for months, filling up space in the driveway. My husband says, “Can’t you get rid of them? You’re not using them.” I cannot. I steel myself against purchasing another thing I know I will kill. I pass the six-inch plants looking for a home at the natural grocery store. I pause.
“I wish I could garden,” a friend says when she sees my newly-purchased seedlings. Me too.