Boca Raton

by Lúcia Leão

The teenagers are playing with a piñata. They place purple party hats around its head, replicating an ominous shape, and hang it in a tree in the park by the beach. It is a COVID-19 party, it seems. We place numbers of cases in mental drawers—like waves, like sunsets, the days keep coming. This is the land of the eternal summer.

I haven’t seen the little blue crabs that used to dart away from my feet on my walks, and I’m not sure what happened to the birds. Red cardinals are getting closer to the sliding doors, do they want to eat from our hands? We hesitate. They don’t know if they should leave or stay. There is questioning in their singing.

A more solid guidance may be found in palm trees and lizards. My neighborhood offers its fruits, a reply to despair in the face of deaths, distances, and delays. One stormy tropical Sunday I take my family to The Garden Jules, an apothecary we didn’t know existed, just four minutes from our home. I had seen the sign a few days before on a road that used to be busy. The space created by the lack of cars allowed me to see it.

The rain has stopped, and we wear our masks. The county has also sent us two: one blue and one red, stamped with a slice of the sea and a sun half-hidden under two palms. Plant life is everywhere. In her garden, Juliane is framed in green, and we hope she can see our eyes smiling. We feel sprinkles from the overcast sky as she hands us an enormous papaya, along with some dark green sweet-potato leaves she harvests. We are visiting the garden to pick up a Florida Forest Steam and a bottle of oxymel, a blend to support the cerebral cortex. There is holy basil in it. We have a fresh awareness of our surroundings as we leave.

At home, the golden pothos is growing bigger and climbing higher, much higher, on the side walls to the roof. It has not been unattended, but rather given more space as we accommodate our rooted bodies to this new life.

Published on September 17, 2020