pa grows things.
the eulogies for the manly man
rolled on like the unpaved road of the Alcan
he hauled us up in ’66; of his soldier wars;
of big game moose hunts; of the kings running
bigger than me in the swollen swirls of Chitina river.
but mostly what he left us
was that he grew things.
the sharecroppers’ son who ran away from home
and joined the army so he could get three squares a day
and indoor plumbing
swears he was born with dirt
under his nails and when he finally put down roots he
decided to grow things.
soft silky pretty little anythings
in spring he cradles shy crocuses and corny daffodils and
puts out the tomato starts that smell right off
like green sunshine on your fingers and
purple climbing clematis and roses red and violets blue and
and clumps of lilacs pale and parsons pink his little girls he has to
with their crayon homework.
but there are his boys the dark ones the
wormwood and witchhazel the
sweetpepper bush and horehound
(and no he didn’t spell it right.)
the helloyellow leopard lily
too seuss-sounding to be too serious
is folded into waves of sweet grass
under the shade of a crepe myrtle that replaced the magnolia
even he couldn’t convince it had reason to live
among the snow and ice of his northern home
so many many worlds away from
i think it will be his flowers most
he leaves us.
he liked to let the annuals go to seed
like he let his perennial seeds of children go
knowing he’d see them again in their season
at the kitchen table.
he let the bulbs sleep deep undisturbed
and let the melting snows cry over them.
he said: let it all die then just watch they Will
come back when they feel the warm.
nothing loved dies: he said
they come back without half trying.
they come back if you half want them.
they come back.