Elegy Composed in the New York Botanical Garden
Catmint—tubular, lavender, an ointment
to blur the scar, bloom the skin. My mouth has begun
the hunt for words that heal.
In the garden, I am startled by a cluster
of sun-colored petals marked, Radiation.
Piles of radiation. Orange radiation, huddled together
like families bound by a hospital-bright morning.
And behind them: a force of yuccas
called Golden Swords. A bush or mound
of sheath-like leaves sprouting from a proud center.
And isn’t that the plot?
First the radiation, then the golden sword.
I remember, incurably,
your mother. The laughter that flowered
from her lips. I’m sorry I have no good words
to honor her war. It crumbled me to watch you
overwhelmed by her face
in the daffodils outside your childhood home.