If Mothers Were Flowers

by Lila Baumann

A girl gets sick of a rose. - Gwendolyn Brooks

When I think of my mother,
I don’t think of perennial flowers—

Bee Balm in late-summer, Swamp
Milkweed near the back pond.

Perennial (adjective): present at all seasons of the year

I don’t think of butterflies in the garden,
a set of bedazzled wings made for show

choir, or costumes belonging to a porch goose.
I don’t think of a front lawn,

raking sweetgums.

Perennial (adjective): persisting for several years usually with new herbaceous growth from a perennating part

I don’t remember that immaculate
suburban display—warm-toned tulips
photographed in the flower bed,

a porch where we’d count seconds
between lightning and thunder,

my bare feet pricked by brown, spikey balls.

I don’t remember the plastic tub that housed creatures
from the backyard—one that overfilled in a hailstorm.

Tadpoles and three-legged-frogs floated out into the flower bed,
got squished under rocks, left to die— little pink tongues

dangling out of their mouths.

Perennial (adjective): PERSISTENT, ENDURING

When I think of my mother, I think of the first
grade—the first time she left—but I don’t remember the day.

Perennial (adjective): continuing without interruption : CONSTANT, PERPETUAL

I remember the card I made on pink construction paper.
I drew a bouquet and a watering can. I wrote,

“If Mothers were flowers, I’d pick you”

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