A poem for Pa – perennial

Posted by jeresk on May 27, 2008 in My Mom's Poems |

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

mississippi cotton.

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.

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