Snapdragon, Bachelor Button, Sweet Pea

Colleen Michaels


One summer we neglected to deadhead,
by winter our favorite flowers were still around,
vibrant purple and red cuttings that shocked the grey
of cold kitchen counters. They were a hoot.
My grandfather, who had been buried under
at least twenty Irish knit layers of snow,
came back warm blooded.
He draped his russet cardigan,
cuffs worn by tinker fingers,
onto the chiffon shoulders
of your Aunt Mille who arrived
in her 1952 full bloom,
holding a Manhattan glass etched
with tipsy faces made mostly of eyelashes.

Arriving in clusters – snapdragon, bachelor button,
sweet pea – all we had lost, came back heady.
Scooch, I said, for the brittle small stems
of children who never were. Find a spot by the windowsill
for the newly dead still aching to open towards the sun.
Let the angered and the fidgety ghosts
sit by the warming oven. Add rose water to the lemonade.
That winter we made a hothouse of memory, added aspirin to every cutting.
Later we all rolled up our sleeves and canned
the sour rhubarb into something sweeter.


Colleen Michaels directs the Writing Studio at Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Massachusetts, where she hosts The Improbable Places Poetry Tour. Her poetry has appeared in The Paterson Literary Review, Blue Collar Review, The Mom Egg, Paper Nautilus, and the anthology Here Come the Brides: Reflections on Love and Lesbian Marriage. She was a 2010 finalist for the Split This Rock Poetry Competition and the recipient of an honorable mention in the 2011 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Prize.



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