Shrubs for the Northern Garden
Forget cerise and orange flowers,
their lipstick-counter colors loud as teenagers,
bursting over Carolina lawns.
The whole landscape of memory: put it away.
Learn not to think of dogwoods,
their cream blossoms arching
over the college walks and the lovestruck young.
Concentrate on what you still have.
On what has learned to be numb.
Lilacs, say. Not a sign from them
in all that freezing time, and then
coming to their senses for a fragrant moment—
Make careful choices.
Take forsythias. Some are sub-zero hardy.
They offer their clear yellow—
so stalwart, so ready to face facts—
early, before the snow has disappeared,
almost before you are prepared to remember
drifts of yellow over Connecticut hills
the spring when you kept flying back, watching
your name drop from your father’s mind
like a spent bloom.
Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim