In the Company of Flowers
all day, coming away
like an ordinary person who
might have been at a till. Thinking
as I dug into earth of my mother
who, when my youngest brother
died, was taken in
by beauty, not as consolation
but because she found him
there as she made the garden.
Each day she tended it
he kept a little more
of her. If ever I doubt
the power of the dead, I walk
her garden in May, rhododendrons
so red, so white their clustered goblets
spill translucent tongues of light at the rim
of the sea. And it is ordinary
to be so accompanied,
so fused to the silence of all that,
as it eludes me, as I am taken in.
Surely my reappearance must wear
the borrowed abundance she
gave me that morning
I was born.
Tess Gallagher is an American poet, essayist, and short story writer. Among her many honours were a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation, a National Endowment for the Arts award and a Maxine Cushing Gray Foundation Award. “In the Company of Flowers” is from Is, Not Is. Copyright © 2019 by Tess Gallagher. Reprinted with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of the author and Graywolf Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota, graywolfpress.org.