“The gladioli are late this year,”
I tell the sidewalk, the shrubs, no one and everyone
who is listening, who already observed
a mother who drank herself to death, who never
met her granddaughters
with pinkish hues
suffused across their cheeks but not their poor vision. She didn’t see:
early glasses, kindergarten recitals, themed birthdays.
planted in “good memories only”
are different every year: sometimes thick,
other times absent entirely
refusing to bring up that night in June.
The neighbors call my house
“the praying house”—
if there are kissing hands
why not a house for confessions, for pleading
A woman, sixty-one with a wool farm
of sheep and llamas
and the occasional chicken that lands
but won’t go home
prayed aloud on my couch
—spoke directly to God for the first time—
while my daughters changed into pajamas.
She didn’t know “how to do it”
but like life, like death,
like family routines
early summer blooms
and trips to the cemetery
it was done.
A man, who is not supposed to pray
who works at the school up the hill
in charge of the public children
bowed his head before a dinner salad
when my kids forgot
one temperate night
just before the gladioli arrived.
are the prayers helping?
are the prayers changing?
I scratch the soil with a trowel
searching for a preview
looking for reassurance
that the flowers are coming
in purple and cream, red and ivory
like the dress from her funeral
that was custom made
just in time.
In this fallow land
of a motherless bed
I will dig
for my healing.
Kimberly Sailor, Mount Horeb, WI, is a 2019 Hal Prize finalist in poetry, with poems also appearing in Sixfold and The Bookends Review. She is the author of the novel The Clarinet Whale. Sailor is the current editor-in-chief of the Recorded A Cappella Review Board, and holds a publicly elected seat on her local Board of Education.