Mom's Story

DEAD AGAIN
(3/25/06)


Spring
is here

the lawn
grows green

trees
and shrubs
begin to show
signs of life

their true colors
emerging
to greet
the lengthening
daylight

the yard
comes to life
all save for a certain
dormant azalea bush
planted last Spring

a then
beautiful new thing
set upon the ashes
of my long dead
mother

she loved
azaleas
but never told me
what to do
with her remains

when death
finally came
her ashes
laid in a box
for five years
as I wondered
about an appropriate
resting place

on her birthday
last April
I brought home
a white flowering azalea
to plant among the others
of varying colors
in my backyard

into the hole
dug
for the bush
I poured Mom's
cremated powder
and fragments

her remains
mixing
with the dirt and water
that would soon
be the home
of new life

a fitting
final marker
for a woman
who loved
to dig her fingers
into the Earth
to grow things
where none
grew before

now
the little azalea's
leaves
are a brittle brown
falling
to the ground

a long
winter's drought
was not kind
to any vegetation
without long established
roots

or any less
than divine
human intervention
to supplement
its insufficient
natural resources

I failed
to nourish the plant
as in the end I failed
to lend much comfort
to a dying mother

watching her
waste away

day by day

from starvation
as the cancer
progressed

the disease
not allowing her
to do the least
of the little things
to take care
of herself

relying upon me
in those last
dying days
to take care of her
to the best
of my meager
abilities

what a relief
a brush through the hair
a warm wet washcloth to the face
eye drops to blinkless eyes
or a gentle scratching
of those itchy ankles
would have been
in her silence
and incapacity

the best
that I could do
was dress her
in the morning

carry her
to the living room

and leave her
to the care
of hired strangers
as I went off to work
to selfishly live
my marginally
functional
life

now the azalea
that I planted
to live over her ashes
has also died
as a direct result
of my neglect
and disinterest
when just
a little water
would have comforted the plant
throughout the long
dry season

as I stand over
the wilted bush
the neighbor's dog
tongue hanging
and tail wagging
comes to the fence
softly whining
for a little attention
so I lean over
the wire mesh

pat her head

being sure
to scratch
underneath her collar
since I know
that she cannot
reach it
on her own