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from Portraits of Mary



Mary deadheads a marigold, shows me her plant hospital,

blighted ivy, straggles of elephant’s ear, shy alyssum

soon to be potted. She mixes manure, topsoil, red clay,


coaxes sprout, leaf, blossom from a stubborn earth. Dusk,

robin-song. Wisteria, loyal as a door. Mary, alchemist-healer,

transforming her charges, the uncertain fingers of root.


The African gardenia revives, an orphan in a stable home.

The dogwood sheds its stutter. Mary scats in the lilies,

rapturous, demiurgic, conducting her motley troupe:


sopranos of forsythia, tenors of hydrangea, basses of iris,

contraltos of impatiens and peonies. The palm hums a coda.

Mary, immeasurable, chromatic. Could this vision linger?


What is it about beauty that lands me in the throat of grief?