Dying Magnolia Tree

Image is my own
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—

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.


Washed

At the Beach – Image by KL Caley

https://new2writing.wordpress.com/2021/06/03/writephoto-beach/#like-5743

( An older poem written in 2015 while in Provincetown, MA.  Revised for this week’s writephoto challenge.)

At sunrise over water,

        Remembering as if in a dream  

The child and you and me

As we stood by a sea

Half a world away.

Both of you now baptized differently by my tears.

 

And for and from you,

I am left with things neither given

Nor felt in years,

 Linked by all the fears

To form over a decade of a life

Lived like a stranger

In my own shrinking skin.

 

I have stood

Since the dawn

At this ocean’s edge

Waiting, waiting.

And now at noon

The rain begins.

Fierce pelting blows

Washing me clean

Of all I know

Or dare to dream.

 

For living continues

Within my own skin

 

The Sixth New Year

The year ends with heavy rains

As if to wash us all clean

Of the leavings and grime.

 

Now, standing with each year

For each foot of earth

Between us forever—

I gather to me

Broken pieces of colored glass

And think of—

 

Just after midnight,

An early morning

Long before dawn—

The third day of a new year six years ago,

You left in blinding, flooding rains.

 

If only on this third day

Of this new year—

I could open the earth

And roll a stone away,

Bringing you back from under

This six feet of earth.

 

But I have neither the strength

Nor the talent

For miracles great or small

When most days

There is not enough

Left over to become

A mosaic of brokenness.

 

The Blanket

Image courtesy of Elftown.com

Written in response to Sammiscribble.Wordpress.com Weekend Writing Prompt #154- Use the word “Fabric” and no more than 131 words

A tiny explosion within the diagnosis:

Stage 3C ovarian cancer,

Blasts a hole in our family fabric.

Threads of surgeries and chemo

Stitch it shut.

A hard-knotted mess left.

We live without holes a few months.

 

New scans, blood tests.

Cancer slices a nice size gash,

fraying at the edges.

More chemo knits shut our fabric, 

No longer perfect with knots, scarred seams,

But whole.

 

Six months,

A rending– bowel resection,

Rips– chemo for a bit,

You stopped, couldn’t do anymore.

The rips, the tears—too many

Too many damaged places to repair.

We learn to live with holes, rips

Fraying tears, worn places—

Until you are no longer there,

Until there is no us—but the child and me,

And no blanket left to cover

What was left of us.