Poetry from NER 40.4
Forsythia will forever remind me
of my mother stealing
branches of it outside the Doubletree Inn
in Murfreesboro, Tennessee,
for her mother’s funeral. Stupid strip-mall
side of town we’d gone to for Starbucks,
caffeine fortification and an Office Max
to print the programs. That’s one facet
of the end: your family scrounging the city-side
for something pretty as tribute under the eyes
of Ruby Tuesday patrons. Here I am,
still young, young-ish, no kids, perched
in the bland middle swath of my life, wondering what
I’ll pilfer for my own mother’s ceremony. Her own
purple irises, perhaps, or if in winter
the prickly stalks of thistles, brown
and old but holding magnificent
crowns of snow: translucent sculptures
of time I’m taking from some future to let
melt in my present embrace of eventual grief.
I know each moment I poach just repopulates.
Something borrowed is the standard rule
for weddings; something stolen, my new protocol
for funerals. Here I am, young, my whole life
ahead of me! Whole life-ish. I shouldn’t dwell
on any of this. It’s the start of spring. Everyone
is still alive. Everyone, within reason. The yellow
branches of forsythia are fireworks, shedding
bright sparks in piles on this parking lot.
There’s a Starbucks nearby, no matter where I go.
There’s a big box store, a row of measly
ornamental shrubs, a tree or two.
There’s the present where everyone lives, now
studded with moments I’ve robbed from a time
I imagine, in which a child watches me scavenge
the landscape for bits of beauty,
learns how to do it herself.