Leaves half dead brown
half living green dappled
with the gold of hope,
sparkling, dangle from the tree
as if life clutched within
holds a secret
on this wonderful warm winter
masquerading as a spring day--
reflecting light like crystals
of a fancy chandelier--
yet the leaves,
fragile as they are,
will fall upon the forest floor
with tomorrow’s cold winds
which they cannot withstand
and my heart, like the leaves—
not green enough
but today, today—
chooses to clutch
at the hope
in this masquerade of spring.
Each new year brings
Now this garden grief
Nourished by regret
Each year, this day, here—
Standing, kneeling, sitting—I
Spend tears, words, wishes
All meaningless now,
In the barren garden grief
Flowers never bloom
Seven years gone now--
Nothing roots, though it has tried,
In the garden grief inside
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.
Caught in the evening downpour,
I am washed clean of summer.
Summer’s red rock, red dirt dreams
Sluiced from me with this autumnal drenching.
Morning greets me with a cool hand
Of sunshine upon my brow.
Autumn whispers of a harvest
Under skies of bluest topaz.
A clear, clean, honest reaping
In days yet to be had.
She will never fall to earth again
After soaring among the stars,
The planets a blur. No.
No. She will never swim
In the deepest oceans,
Cavorting with dolphins and whales. No.
No. Never will her soul fly,
Brushing shoulders with angels,
Their wings touching upon her face. No.
No. Never these things.
Never these dangerous things again.
Never allowing illusions to gain sway. No.
No. She will plant her feet firmly in the ground.
Her heart cemented in her chest. Yes.
Yes. That once mighty waterfall
Has slowed to a trickle
As there no longer exist
Any waterfall wishes.
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