for my mother
Lit matches struck in the dark, road-flares
burning, these poppies smolder by the bird bath
where we brought my mother’s ashes
when her life wicked out. Each flower
is splotched with black, night at the heart
of burning day. Light shines through the petals,
translucent as skin. At the end, her bones shone through,
the skeleton wanting to dance. The poppies’ orange tango,
a wild fandango with the wind. Nothing in English rhymes
with this color, not porridge, not ordinary, not original.
We only have one mother. Reach for a blossom,
twirl it in your fingers, a dancer on an unlit stage.
Every gardener knows about loss: thinning, pruning,
the appetite of rabbits, how frost waits in the wings,
sharpening his shears.
This poem first appeared in Barbara Crooker's book Gold (Poiema Books).
Barbara Crooker is the author of nine books of poetry; Les Fauves is the most recent. Her work has appeared in many anthologies, including The Bedford Introduction to Literature, Commonwealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania, The Poetry of Presence and Nasty Women: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse. www.barbaracrooker.com
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