The flowers died in mourning around my Nana
at Pistey’s Funeral Home that beautiful day in June.
She would have been glad to meet God in spring,
when her ankles weren’t swollen and she could feel
the warmth in her blood again.
But the tips had turned brown and the once full
blooms bowed their heads with my mother,
whose right hand rested quietly on top
of the closed casket. When I was young,
and would bury myself in the arms of my Nana’s bed,
she would tell me stories of my mother’s
hands and how they brought life to the cemetery
after winter. She told me how she wrapped
the small fingers in her own, that they would kneel
in the grass at my grandfather’s grave
and work the earth into a blanket of red geraniums.
Coming from the well, my mother would hurry past
rows of headstones, the glimpsing eyes of Jesus
angling upon her, much like the thin metal softening
in the heartbeat of her fist, so heavy
with fear she was that if the water was not kept still
the delicate orbs would forget how to grow.
I know my Nana will greet God
as she does her daughter, shading the sun
with a half-tilting head, pulled from contemplation
of another life before her. So too move
the newly-planted stems, elongating with the reach
of my Nana’s hand outward, knowing what to do,
so that even now, in the quiet wake of the room,
when my mother gently pulls her hand away,
the flowers look just a little more
Susan L. Leary
If you have any thoughts on this poem, Susan L. Leary would
be pleased to hear them.