Mimi with a Watering Can

Auguste Renoir. A Girl with a Watering Can, 1876, 40 x 29". National Gallery, Washington, D.C.

"How would you like to help Claire water the plants?" Elise asked and went to fetch her a small tin watering can.

Mimi's chest puffed out like a little sergeant when she took it. She tipped the watering can to sprinkle the iris, scooting back her feet so as not to wet her blue boots. She doused the sweet peas twined on strings, the clumps of daisies. He saw her against pinks and green and yellow gold, lavender and deep purple, but no gray. She sprinkled the cascade of wild roses spilling over the sweet alyssum in joy. Water drops moistened the young rosebuds, tight, mauve, as full of promise as Lise's nipples that first miraculous time he'd seen them.

Mimi came to the pansies bordering the path, and pointed. "Papa. They look like butterflies. They're taking a nap."

She scowled when the water ran out, then ran back to the house to refill her small container. Puckering her mouth with the importance of her task, she carried on.

There was nothing unusual about that watering can--tin turned bluish green, with a sprinkler head on the spout--yet he felt a tenderness toward it out of all proportion to its value. How Mimi's fingers, like little white minnows, grasped its handle. How she wielded it with an authority beyond her years. It made no difference that the trickle of water drops falling on leaves and petals was a mere decoration and would never nourish the plant deep down in the earth where the roots searched for sustenance. She had a job, a purpose.

If only he were a poet.