For thirty-one years, my mother tried not to miss her. Every week, 

a little water or the trickle of a few ice cubes



in black earth. Years back, in the muck of Toronto, April,

my grandmother visited from Israel, left

a Christmas cactus


the vast beach of my mother’s Mediterranean

mother — oranges, mangoes, brown skin, hot

tempers, a bowl of warm milk for stray cats —

all packed inside this


tiny hammered copper vessel. For fifteen years after

my grandmother’s death, this house plant


kept moulting, blooming. Blooming, moulting, against the grain of North

American weather. Sometimes I caught my mother, comfortable


inside unfamiliar Canada, cheek pressed up against perennial

creeping stems, channelling her mother’s nature, enduring as intermittent

pink florets. 


My mother noted its growing, shrivelling. She would pick

dead leaves, sometimes forget

water. It survived, 


the care it was given. This plant. For thirty-one years, my mother

kept showing me. 

Bibliographical info

Tamar Rubin’s “Perennial” from Tablet fragments © 2020 by Tamar Rubin. Source: Tablet fragments (Signature Editions, 2020). Printed by permission of the publisher.

Start here: