With apologies to any horticulturists, who will have immediately recognized
that the plant described is not astilbe at all –
it’s actually a type of kalanchoe. I claim poetic license on this one, as
I didn’t find that out till after the poem was written.
I kept the original for the sheer pleasure of the sound of the word.
On my father’s invitation
I went home
despite fears of awkwardness
I sat with him as evening deepened
spinning fragile words into the air
hoping against hope
to span the distance grown between us
Later, on the bedside table:
Tiny bright red blossoms,
shining green leaves
roots descending into a Mason jar.
I would not have known their name
but for my mother’s morning query
did I enjoy the flowers
in my room?
“Your father insisted
there must be flowers.”
A long ago conversation
springs to mind
my father’s tears
and the corsage
he brought me later
“to my beautiful daughter”
Like a blackboard eraser rubbing away all trace of ancient chalk
in an abandoned schoolroom
Grace again wipes clean the slate
I have come home
to bright midwinter promise
in a Mason jar of flowers at my bedside.
February 11, 2002 and June 20, 2004 Fathers’ Day