DISPATCH FROM AN INHERITED GARDEN
I wouldn’t have chosen them—the geranium,
the rosemary, the fern—in their terra cotta pots.
They were comfortable on your little brick porch,
nurtured by your nicotine-stained hands.
After you died, I brought them to my home
thirty miles away so they could wither
out of view of anyone who knew you.
A private death. A small mercy.
I felt no companionship with them,
the way you did. And I understood, then,
the cool distance you must have felt
for the opossums and white-tail I loved.
Still, I think you would approve of my devotion
to the bleeding hearts, hung like ornaments,
the prim and polite miniature rose,
even the peonies with their drowsing, heavy heads.
I had no patience for annuals, I told you.
If it couldn’t come back on its own—take care of itself—
But you had the patience to care for the simple, blind, reaching lives
of plants, even more than your own.
DISPATCH IN MIDSUMMER
Japanese beetles in red-green oil-slick armor
shelter from the rain inside the whorled corollas
of hibiscus flowers. I think of arriving
outside your apartment and there being no blood
on the sidewalk, no stain, no imprint on the grass.
The summer morning when three black vultures met me
at the top of the hill, I was not disgusted
or afraid but instead was amazed at their size,
their slow luxury of movement as they treaded
the air. This was no metaphor and I neither
thought of you, nor looked for the newborn fawn nearby.
My grief is not emotional. It has performed
a kind of long division of itself, like weeds
spreading in a flowerbed. Each Sunday I walk
past the raspberry bush—jagged leaves and tart fruit,
counting the gifts I owe to people and hoping
they’ll forgive my trespasses, and I’ll forget theirs.