The Vase by Bruce Guernsey

The Vase

—For A.L., 1975-1995

May in March: our daughter’s birthday, somehow now twenty
as the crocus uncurl in their black beds, everywhere
yellow, yellow, a whole week of weather
yellow as her hair—

even the bug light on the north porch
where a moth this birthday evening, back too soon,
flaps against the glass flower,
the dust of its wings on the yellow bloom.

In the mild of this scented night, so fragile,
we walk her to her car and back to college:
seat belt on, doors locked, half a carrot cake
in a box beside her and leaning against it the vase

we found and filled with twenty daffodils
to brighten the table tonight, yellow, yellow,
yellow as the petals from its delicate neck
like wishes we’d given light to, gone in a breath.

by Bruce Guernsey, from From Rain: Poems, 1970-2010.

Editor’s Note: The repetition in this poem shows the emotional weight of goodbyes with great subtlety.

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