Of all the things unknotting themselves in the garden, he brings me this armful of hopeful white blooms. I haven’t got the heart to tell him that pear blossom is not a picking flower. So for now we are happy as dogs. We sit on the front porch, dipping our toes in the sun while on his phone, an Italian bridge collapses.

“Bridge is an Italian card game,” he tells me, and I’m thinking about moving, one player at a time.

In Genoa, at least 39 people have died, says the news. At least. As if time did not know any other way of passing. As if it never knew how easy it is to be a wide-mouthed river, swallowing years whole.

We walk the narrow hallway and from my arms the pear blossom reaches out to brush the walls, and some parts of it shake loose and make a trail to remember where we have been.

On the kitchen bench is too much rhubarb. He finds a recipe from the greasy pages of Cooking for One, because it’s the only one new enough to be in metric and neither of us are handy at converting.

“My mother used to wash the stones from rice,” he tells me, and with a clumsy elbow the flour for our crumble goes rushing to the floor. Now we’re dipping our toes in the white-starred galaxy, each writing our names, separately, then rubbing them out. It would be different with rice, I think, you might make the effort to rinse it. With flour you would only get glue.

After lunch, I settle the blooming sticks into a vase on the kitchen table where we can look upon them kindly. By tomorrow, it will all have fallen apart in a spinning shower of petals. And tomorrow, his stoneless mother will arrive, run her fingers through the white drifts on the tabletop and ask me again, “Aren’t you looking forward to the pears?”


Zoë Meager is from Aotearoa New Zealand. Her work has appeared abroad in publications including Granta and Overland, and locally in Turbine | Kapohau, Landfall, and Bonsai: Best small stories from Aotearoa New Zealand. There’s more at zoemeager.com