Pulling from the highest shelf
(Hoping no one noticed)
A book labeled too provocative to leave behind:
“Dead & Pretty”
How they once sipped water through stems
From beneath the clean garden soil.
I sit on oak old chairs at Along library table with hearts carved by keys
Holding initials of what love leaves
Turning pages of pressed flowers
Bowing their heads in prayer hour after hour.
Weak petals dry as ice
Lining page after page with the names
Of the dead typed carefully
To let me not forget:
Poppy, Lily, Daisy, Cassia, Aster
Carefully as though stepping through a grave yard - faster and faster
I close the tomb of wild things
With Short lives. I sit remembering
Trying to sweep away my cobwebs
I find dust and mold instead
My skin the color of smooth stones
My body’s brittle bones
Now the color of magnolias.
Water in those years
Turned ore to rust everywhere. Torrential winter snows
Opened up on sleepy
Flower beds. Springing now
Surprising early yellow tulips Yawning their petals open
Waiting to hear the breezes beat to begin dancing -
Bent and swaying
In their cradle and their grave.
Marigolds in my grandma’s garden
Weeds to her - once graced
Me with my tomorrow’s and memories and yesterday’s.
Can you recall when “I love you”
Was enough to buy more time?
Now that I’m expiring, do you still consider
That money well spent?
You bent me towards the light. Then let me go to cry alone.
I know the dawn - I tell you
Dusk I know, too, time lies.
We’ve come for shoveling
Our rough callous hands holding
A bouquet of ill gotten gains.
Some say we’re born of women
Some only children of men
Yet it’s in the heat of my own body
Where I am born again.
My own flowers are planted in clay pots
Held in by iron fences waiting
For chances at their time in the garden.
If you could do it over again
Would you mind not knowing why?
The fall’s done showing off,
Yet Women’s work is never done
Even once we have succumbed to the worst of it.
I set my timer for high tide
Boarding early. Late as ever
You stumbled as you rolled with the waves.
Why you insisted to save
Yourself yet let your legs give way breaking your stride
Now drowning in tears and years of regret
(told you so I told you so)
“Make memories like books of pressed flowers
Let the beauty lie for you
Make the memories last longer.”
Too busy to listen now listless and deaf
Now throwing yourself to a tear soaked ocean
Right along with my steamer trunk
Filled with your pasts
With all the photographs.
All the pressed flowers now floating like dead fish
Along side my face pressed
Against yours in a kiss.
Now Walking the house end yo end like an old pirate
You won’t sleep until you can’t stay awake.
Once you dreamed of drowning
Yet found a floating plank instead
Freed from a boat that crashed long ago
Its bounty sunk down down on a coral reef.
You never learned, yet I swam
Without taking a breath until I found the
Flowers of the sea at
Depths that mean only one things.
And now with the ahead and forwards alone
How easy to forget how love feels.
Rolling your shoulders back
And now put the book on the shelf where it belongs.
(You knew I was no thief)
I meant to return it at least you choose to believe it.