Tea in the Garden
My daughter, my mother and I enjoy
a third infusion of a green oolong.
I offer Mom small cups of tea and
all the approval and forgiveness
I can manage, but, like a ploy—
Somehow misbegotten, wrong.
For reasons I never will
Know, Mom’s father and her older brother,
—Grandfather Robert and Uncle Bobby I never knew—
Left holes to fill.
Bobby,12, was killed when
a train slammed into the hay truck he rode.
Mom’s parents grieved deep, long,
Did they notice their little girl suffered too?
My daughter helps me stay with my mom.
We snuggle on the couch, sipping, now, a
Fourth infusion from tiny thin white porcelain
Cups without handles handmade in Korea.
I rest one hand lovingly on my mom’s warm knee.
I cradle a tiny, almost empty cup in the other.
I am her son, am I also her dad, her brother?
I can’t do this alone. My brothers help,
More than I know.
I’m the father of her only granddaughter.
We stroll out to the garden
Through the back door.
Mom’s steps are unsteady, slow.
We study without embarrassment salmon roses
Unfolding their voluptuous petals
We see three baby zucchini,
The first of the season.
I grasp an old Swiss Army knife in my pocket
take it out and unfold a blade and
pass it carefully, scuffed red plastic handle first,
To my daughter, who,
With skills honed in surgery
Slices three zucchini from their umbilicals.
Grandpa died when Mom was in college
Ten years before I could hear his voice.
I long to hear his voice, even if only in dreams.
We chew the raw zucchini,
Eyes closed in reverent reflex
Wordlessly thanking leafy mother zucchini.
“You’re welcome,” she says shyly,
Plant language we three hear plainly,
And we know the zucchini is looking forward
To languid sex
With bees in the afternoon sun
The day after tomorrow.
A bluebird lands in a nearby blue spruce
Just ahead of a breeze.
The three of them—
The breeze, the bluebird, the trees
Whisper a blessing, a prayer, a truce
To the five of us
My mother, my daughter, me,
The zucchini and the bees.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
A Poem for My Mother
My mother, who would note her eighty-sixth birthday, on the ninth of June, died fourteen years ago this October. The dead pay visits in dream lands. My Mom has been stopping by in my dreams of late. Scenes from these dreams inspired this poem.