Her hands plunge deep into the flower bed,
pulling out rocks,
breaking up clumps
of stubborn dirt,

her fingers hurt from household work,
the soreness easing while kneading
rich, affirming earth,

a respite from cooking, scrubbing, mending,
lending an ear to each child’s concerns,

she learns to take it all to the garden,
where her smiles and tears
mix with sprouting seeds,
her prayers lie down with iris bulbs,

her plants much like the children she’s borne,
each one unique, each one a treasure,
needing time and space to fully bloom,

in death, her labors were done,
yet the work of her hands carried on,

irises bloom from original bulbs
in the gardens her children now grow,

plunging their hands into welcoming earth,
they sense their sweet mother,
hear her kind words,

knowing they blossomed
alongside these bulbs,
alongside these seeds,

in ways she envisioned
so many long years ago.

This poem originated from a discussion I had with my friend (and park neighbor), Tanya Willett. The irises in the photo are now in Tanya’s garden but were originally planted by her mother at Tanya’s childhood home.

4 responses

  1. Maureen Shepherd | Reply

    A lovely poem reminding me of the cycle of love that lives on in memories and other ways through generations.

    1. Maureen, it’s remarkable to think about flower bulbs producing through generations. It was such an honor to talk to Tanya and visit her beautiful garden.

  2. A most perfect way to remember a loved one is through the symbolic beauty of flowers. Your vision of Tanya’s mother is perfection.

    1. Judy, the flowers hold so many stories, especially these very special irises.

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