Every poem about a mother
is its own sorrow, its own white iris
looking out at the world.
Ted’s geese resting in the pond,
peonies burning circles in the sky.

Mary’s mother is blue wisteria,
a mossy stream behind her house
brings order to the world.
She tells us to live with the beetle
and the wind, to let life untidy us.

My mother didn’t like to be in nature,
but she took great care of her plants,
knew their language, smoothed
the dark veins of their leaves.
Her poem will not contain flowers,

no wisteria, no iris delivered
from the house of the dead.
I’ll call it Poem with Its Head in Its Hands
and there will be an artichoke,
its thirsty shape urging us

to unbrace its layered heart.
Her husband will call it
Be the Flame, Renew My Thirst.
Her son will call it
The Darkness Is Not Here to Stay.