Three images inspired by poems about loss (for BO, MH, JB):
smell lilies again
without thinking of those
brought to me after my sister’s death.
This time I chose them,
wide petals yawning over the vase.
I go outside to look for her
in the eyes of the cardinal.
Snow flurries no one predicted—
perhaps these are the ashes
of the dead, now pure.
I open my mouth and let them settle.
In the Moment of My Death: For My Father
You were simple, I suppose,
delighted by life
so that sickness and death
came to you as a surprise
out of the shadows of your heart.
In the moment of my death
may your old happiness light my way,
and the image of your face
smiling, happy at my coming,
be a lantern in the dark.
—for my mother
When the black-eyed susans begin to bloom
in the backyard, and the moonbeam coreopsis
bursts into tiny stars, I think of the year
I banished yellow from my life. It was the year
I dug up the lantana, when I didn’t plant
narcissus and all the buttery bulbs
but chose white, and a little blue, for the garden
without knowing that I was readying
for two long years of her dying. The next spring
I painted our kitchen, once a lemony gloss, ecru.
I threw out from my closet all the blouses
hinting, from their hangers, of glad canaries.
Beginning that fall I dressed in a dull haze
of beige, toning myself down for the end.
I ignored the incandescence of morning, the amber
of dusk, and leaned to clouds billowed in black.
The week in November she died I loaded the trunk
of my car with flats of pansies, three sacks of bulbs.
I wanted my hands working the dirt, a dark loam
that would spring into jonquils, daffodils—bright
coronas of yellow, and yellow, and yellow.