In the event, there was little for them to say

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In the event, there was little for them to say,
The flowers, so they stood still, swaying,
Not even murmuring amongst themselves.
Meanwhile my mother’s funeral rose up in me
Like a volcano.

They clung to the soil and the rock
For dear life, the flowers, while far below
Suspended like a miracle in infinite space
The sun, too, clung on for dear life—
So small, hot, and bright!

Each flower, surely, had its petaled meaning:
Bridal and Christmas Rose, Red and White Clover,
Meadow Saffron, varieties of Geranium and Thrift.
But on that day, as I recall, they said
Nothing to the point.

A poem could have stopped then and there
Like a cut flower, like a vase
For cut flowers, like a cut glass vase
Glittering—the human element—
In the hot, bright light.

But from the garden where we stood, I participated
In a greater miracle: the earth, all flowers
And volcanoes, was whipping the sun
Around and around in circles, around, around,
Like a child’s toy.

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At least you died beloved

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At least you died beloved
Though surrounded by snow
And after the slow twilight
Had gathered and then gone.

Not how you thought to go,
Maybe, when you were young
And winter a long way off,
Before anything was known.

Couldn’t the end have come
One day in summer?
One perfect day
That would be like living always?

A field of flowers, warm sun,
Your loved ones gathered round
And after one bird’s wistful song
No pain, and no good-byes unsaid?

I harbor no regrets for you.
You were our perfect day,
He your warm sun, and we
Your field of flowers.

 

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