My Dad Kneeling in Front of a Flower Bed on Abington in Detroit


My Dad Kneeling in Front of Flower Bed on Abington in Detroit

I look for lilacs to steal or forsythia
even lilies of the valley, those shy bells of fragrance
any handful hanging over a fence in an alley
along the sidewalk in this mountain town
some forgotten flower I can take home
each spring I miss his magic

he could steer any blossom from the ground
he tended and surrounded our big house
with a calm world of color and diligence
my high desert dirt thousands of miles away
yields lighter simpler blooms or maybe
I just never paid enough attention to him
or perhaps he paid me none

they grow smaller here and decorate yards
of well-manicured doctors and retirees
some lacy violet bunches or stringy golden bursts
show up wild waiting for me to notice
my own poor lot is rocky soil acidic not plush
or loose and dark like Michigan loam
I crave the honeyed smell of yesterday
when his gardening assured normal
a mild he manifested away from the chaos
of big family home city house, big life

I tentatively tend two circles, raised beds
harnessed to my hope and my lack of skills
with river rocks and old memorized prayers
purple penstemon and red hot pokers biting
high altitude sky in their patient quest for breath
no hurry my pine tree will be fertilized today
only I could kill a pine in a forest
replete with ponderosas and spruce and juniper
there is so much we never said to each other

I look for lilacs to steal and plug into a mason jar
I want my dining room sweetened with the air
I abandoned and the questions I was afraid to ask
certain the answers will arrive as the stolen cluster
withers and sheds on the tablecloth he gave me
pollen mumbling but I shake it off before dinner



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