My Mother’s Garden [Joan]
April 3, 2011
My sisters and I spent
last summer digging up her irises
because, she said,
she had to start the chemo, and
she wouldn’t feel like dealing with them.
Once the beds were clear,
and after her first treatment
with the saving poison, she expressed
a desire for a few flowers,
just a few. The few flowers grew
into mulched beds and
rock borders on both sides of the porch,
Kockout roses, clematis, chrysanthemums,
a trimmed hydrangea and a pink
rose bush pruned to a topiary.
To this, we added, as the chemo
went on—monthly sessions
that left her gray and crabby—
a statue of St. Francis (solar), a toad
house (solar), and a duck rain gauge (solar).
When Christmas came, the doctors
returned her body to her,
and we bought Johnny Jump-ups;
last week, she asked for some of my
Asiatic lily bulbs—purple and white--
but declined the calla lily bulbs, saying
that, since she had given hers away,
she shouldn’t take them. She asked for Sweet
Peas, reminding my older sister and me
that she grew those when we lived on Laurel Street.
Lately, I notice, when she’s not talking flowers
or what I should and should not eat,
she’s saying, “I remember…,” as though
she’s trying to plant those memories in me
the way I plant her flowers when she asks.