by Emily Pierce

“What’s up with you and
magnolias anyway?”
Dried out leaves, shiny
side down, crunch
underfoot as we try to
get to the door as if
the pavement was
lava and these fragile
magnolia leaves would
take us safely there
as if the trees flanking
their house could keep
them safe could keep
them from dying but
the soft buds turned to
white petals cannot
distract death nor can
it keep you from forcing
your eight-year-old eyes
to cry at the funeral
you’re supposed to cry
at funerals why aren’t
you crying at least for
dad’s sake? And I never
found out what happened
to big bird but the roll-top
desk that was his throne
sits unused in our office
and the old camry Gram
died in became mom’s
new car and the fake
jewelry sits in boxes,
hat pins and brooches and
tangled necklaces I have
to unclasp to work out
and half a dozen hospital
volunteer pins, one for
every two hundred hours
of service up through
twelve hundred. And I
never found out what
happened to the dick
and jane books, the
pokey puppy, but the
easy chair Grandad
sat in reading them to
us, on his lap, sits in
my parents’ room as a
place to throw clothes
even now, more than
ten years since they
died, and I’m not sure
what to do with this
collection of things
we don’t use except to
make them a sort of
collage centered around
the magnolia sapling
in our front yard that
we planted on one of their
birthdays or mother’s day
or something, some of
their ashes in the soil
cause Gram sure did
love magnolias or
something like that.
I don’t know.
I didn’t know them.

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