She sunk into a world of tangled vines, falling berries, bruised grapes, rough rinds, and ripening flesh. Because of her father, she knew to loosen the ground around the plants by pressing her palms into the dirt. She knew to water the strawberries more than the roses. She knew to go out after a heavy rain and pick up worms from the pavement and set them between the mounds of wet earth. By the fall she had picked the last of the tomatoes and squash from her father’s garden. There were only different shades of green left: lettuce, cabbage, kale, and the prickly leaves on the rosebush.
That year, winter came slowly and buried the garden day by day. The leaves turned brown. The mounds receded. The dirt became hard and ashy.
Catina Bacote’s nonfiction has appeared or is forthcoming in The Gettysburg Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, The Sun, TriQuarterly, The Common, and The Southern California Review. She wrote a viewing guide to the documentary Banished: American Ethnic Cleansings. In addition to Ragdale she has been awarded fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and the Millay Colony for the Arts. Bacote holds an MFA from the University of Iowa, where she was admitted as a Dean’s Fellow and subsequently served as the Provost’s Visiting Writer in Nonfiction. She is an assistant professor of creative writing at Warren Wilson College.