The magnolia tree is dead or dying
Said the experts at the nursery
Which planted it.
No green leaves hang upon it,
Only these brittle, brown things
Cling to its limbs still.
The experts give me two things,
Free of charge of course,
To try to resuscitate my magnolia.
The experts tell me everything to do
Over the next eight weeks,
But not to worry, if it all doesn’t work,
The tree will be replaced. It’s guaranteed.
A guarantee I never thought I’d need.
I did everything right:
Watering and fertilizing,
Watering and fertilizing,
Factoring in all the rain—
Yet here it stands dead or dying
In this place you never knew.
Like with you, in the place you knew,
I did everything I knew to do—
Replace the cooking pots and pans with stainless,
Only organic foods, red wine the only alcohol,
Broke all the cigarettes in two,
Quit my job to care for you—
Until the fourth time it returned,
Spread to the lungs and liver,
You wanted your cigarettes and alcohol back.
How could I argue? Say no to that?
Yet even then—
I found you cigarettes with no additives, organic tobacco too.
Until January, our magnolia bloomed as you lay dying,
When at midnight a storm blew through,
Minutes later, you died
And the magnolia shed its blooms.
So here now, in this new place,
I planted a magnolia in memory
Of what was, what was not,
Of what could have been, should have been,
Of what would have been
If I possessed the magic to shape shift
Into the one you most wanted.
And now, this tree in this new place
Stands dead or dying.
But I will do as the experts say:
Spray from top to bottom for disease,
Shock the roots every other week
Until mid- November, hoping to bring it back,
Bring it back from the edge of death.
If I can’t, the nursery will replace it
With another magnolia tree.
Yet I must think on that.
In this place, in this soil, perhaps
A magnolia is not meant to be.
I may ask them to replace it
With a different tree.
For it could be,
That here and now,
Magnolias are no longer meant for me.
I am a retired teacher, enjoying everything that retirement means. In addition, I have been active in the LGBTQ community since I was four years old and marched my Ken doll with all his little Ken accouterments to the big metal trash can in the yard. Yes, I dumped Ken, along with said accouterments, into the can and slammed the lid on. My two Barbie dolls lived happily ever after.
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