flowers

a young man sits alone with flowers; we assume
they are for someone pretty and idealistic.
perhaps our sister. perhaps our cousin,
the old one, who lives in town with a mutual aunt.
it doesn’t matter; it’s a symbol and will stay with you
during the day, nearly surfacing once or twice,
mostly lurking underneath until you happen to think
of your mother grubbing around in the black soil of the
old garden with her spade and her great straw hat,
or of the time the red retriever bitch bore her young
on the coldest day of the year (for fifteen minutes
you were the only one who knew, kneeling
there in the root cellar afraid and astonished,
and then you rushed to wake the household).
these memories will come by night and with them,
for reasons no one knows, they will bring
the flowers, the expression, the hands of the boy.
such small wages for the unpaid labor of women.
sometimes you will think of them and you will weep.

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