Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Landscape with Figures (Poem)

Here's the poem I promised a few minutes ago. It was inspired by a photograph Grandma gave all of us last Christmas. I mention it here (at the end of the post), but thought it deserved a more poetic treatment.

As always, I'm open to your feedback.

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Landscape with Figures


I’m sure this is how
they’d want to be remembered—

pansies (some salmon, some pink with white tips),
geraniums, tulips, and phlox to their right and left;

a patch of daisies just behind; a small grove of aspen
farther back, by the property line, trunks skirted by juniper,

leaves early summer green. Yet, as I work to fix them
within this vessel of word and memory, their graying bodies

blur into gardens sprung out of Eden’s clarity:
Cursed is the ground, God had said; and they’d blessed it

with breath and sweat and with callused hands and
fingers engrained with the years of soil they’d

layered on seeds and tucked
around the roots of plants. Posed here (rib to rib

beside their sprawling oak, his shoulders
trim with reserve, arms straight, hands anchored

to his thighs; her posture loose, fresh tulips in hand,
legs poised to greet us beyond their frame) they slip

into the shadow of once diseased branches
now swallowed in the vines he’d planted

years ago
to keep the dead tree green.