Saturday, April 11, 2015


Today's prompt from Robert Lee Brewer's Poetic Asides blog was to write a seasonal poem. As a gardener, I think I'm never more aware of the changing seasons than in spring, even here in the desert, where the major planting of both food crops and ornamentals is divided between fall and spring, with fall being at least as important, if not more so, since what we can grow in summer is limited by the extreme heat as well as aridity.
     But I grew up in a more temperate climate, where things and plants unfolded in different patterns that I can't forget, nor do I want to.


Forsythia came first, a great fountain of weeping gold
a child could hide under, not the crocus peeking out
from beneath the hawthorn, nor lilies of the valley tucked
in dark corners alongside steps, overshadowed by juniper.

Then daffodils, tulips, narcissus, popping up everywhere,
especially the daffodils, all that yellow scattered over the lawn,
like dandelions, but welcomed even by adults, and then
the lilacs, each flower in its turn and overlapping.

Grape hyacinth, shy but fragrant, ignored in favor 
of peonies, so lush and loose in red and pink and white,
crawling with ants, trailing their petals like the ragged petticoats
of harlots after soldiers, showing up just in time for Memorial Day.

The women always worried: would there be enough blossoms
for the graves? Would the peonies bloom on cue? Would the lilacs
last long enough? The tulips, daffodils, and their kin 
would likely be gone, and it was too soon to count on roses.

That day, everyone trooped up the hill with mayonnaise jars
full of flowers. In the military section a flag was raised,
guns shot off, prayers said, songs sung, children scolded
for walking on the graves. Tomorrow would be summer.

                  - Victoria Stefani (draft)

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