Scatter the Seed and Go on with Your Life; I Mean it

A Tree to Watch Over Them

Plant a tree for me, said someone I know—
as we know people these days.
The notion caught my attention.
What a lovely thought, I said to
the space in my mind that receives
and holds onto all the words
created by the space in my mind
that tries to tells it things.
Oaks and pines, birches and aspens,
crabapples and cherries, spruces and maples.
Ah, maples.
Make mine a maple,
with beautiful leaves
and big, brawny branches
to hold a child or two
when a child (or two)
needs a place of her own—
a place where one space
in her mind
can make words
for another space
in her mind.
But don’t plant a sugar maple for me.
The thought of syrup and synapses
that no longer fire is a sticky mess
in my mind.
Did I mention death?
The person that I know
(as we know people these days)
mentioned death.
Sort of.
He never actually used the word.
Instead, he chose a nice, soft
euphemistic phrase meant
to replace the mean, hard, forthright word.
When I’m gone is how he chose
to phrase it. He could have said,
After I pass.
My sister never says Died.
Instead, she uses Passed,
as in How long has it been
since your mother passed?
and she says it in that soft,
lilting, apologetic voice
that sometimes drives me crazy.
But the crazy is my doing,
not hers.
We get through this life
and on to another in
whatever way seems best
at the time.
She doesn’t practice saying
How long has it been
since your mother passed?
in a mirror hung on a bathroom wall.
She doesn’t compare those words
to more graphic ones like
When did she kick off? Or
So, she’s pushing up daisies now? Or
When did she die?
I don’t think that she even
passes the phrases from
one spot in her brain
to another.
She simply lives her life,
feels her emotions,
and says what seems
appropriate at the time.
Speaking of appropriate,
I guess now is the time
to tell you that I don’t want
you to plant a tree for me.
If I can take a moment to
choose my words carefully,
I’ll tell you in this way:
There is no need to plant a tree for me.
Wildflowers will do.
Then you won’t have to think about me
all the time, only in season,
and you won’t have to worry about
weeds and watering,
pruning and paring.
After all, I wouldn’t want to
have to do the same for you.
It’s not that I don’t love you.
You know that I do.
But the dead are to bury the dead.
Which I guess means that
the living are to go on living.

 

Thank you, Peter Notehelfer, for getting these notions into my head and these words out into the world.

Watch Out! I’m Dangerous

High-Voltage Beauty

I read books of my own choosing.
I think my own thoughts.
I write about my own convictions.

I have no teachers, professors,
administrators, school boards,
bosses, editors, Facebook “friends,”
not even an audience—real or imagined—
to tell me what is or is not acceptable.

There are no golden handcuffs on me.
I am dangerous because I am free.

Change of Season

Change of Season

My mouth is dry,
my tongue thick and heavy.
It feels foreign,
as if it doesn’t belong to me.
Would my body betray me that way?

Perhaps I just need a glass of water
—but I’ve downed six or seven today,
and the thirst remains, unslaked, unmoved.

My lips are cracked,
and opening them hurts.
I’ve started communicating
without words,
but I miss them terribly.

Is this state of affairs temporary?
Could it be my very own
winter of discontent?

Out front, six or seven crocuses
are preparing to enter from stage left.
Daffodils and tulips will share the spotlight next.
Water from today’s rain puddles in their curled leaves.
I wonder if it’s enough for me.

Body Garden

Body Garden

Charlotte is gone,
and she’s never coming back.
Amy is as sure of this
as she is of the rose
beneath her nose
(a flower with no scent).
It’s OK. It’s OK. It’s OK.
Amy repeats it like a mantra,
willing her respiratory system
to attend to the soul,
not just the blood and guts.

Crippled corpus.

Charlotte has uprooted herself.
Amy’s new additions
appeal more than anything
grown from old seed.
They are
showier,
not prone to disease,
deer resistant,
genetically modified,
hybridized,
sterile,
a safe bet.

Cold frame.

Charlotte will be fine
in her new bed.
She comes from
resilient stock.
She has weathered
drought and flood,
unwanted attention
from deer and dogs,
cats and rats,
and nosy neighbors
trying to dig her up
or cut her down.

Delivery system.

Amy will keep
digging in the dirt,
paring, pruning,
separating perfect limb
from damaged limb,
adding the latest
offerings she finds online.
She’ll water, weed, fertilize
—in short, ensure that
her carefully cultivated,
prize-winning landscape
stays so full of flowers,
she never notices
what’s missing.

Circulation

Circulation

The roundness of tonight’s moon
added depth to her words
printed on the old newspaper
that happened to find its way
into my hands.

She is a former colleague
who might have been a friend
if our paths had crossed
at a different point
in the cycle of life.

“I sense a circle full,”
she wrote,
sharing her past,
hinting at her future,
and reminding us all
that life becomes death
and death becomes life.

The vines
that form the wreath
are pliable.
They bend.
And as one slides past
another,
a crook
catches on
a flaw.

Branches tangle for a while,
spending time together,
until they break free
and go their separate ways,
continuing on so that
a ring is formed.