Defiant Greens by Daryl Sznyter

Defiant Greens

After your funeral,
I will dye my hair green.
The box of jumpin’ jade
is dusty under my bathroom
sink, hidden behind the bleach
and insect repellent,
waiting for you as I wait
for you – insisting on paying
you this final respect,
not wanting to be the stone
that finally kills you
as opposed to my mom’s
bad taste in men
or my brother’s girlfriend’s
childless womb.

Blaspheming you
would be so easy
considering the confusion
that cloaks your face
when I come to visit
and the tears that follow
when I tell you
who I am.

You’d believe me
if I said my hair
was always green,
that green hair
was a given
when you grew up
playing in gardens.

I know you’d believe me,
because I see your hands
move when you’re sleeping,
pruning your gladiolus,
which I will later
tattoo on my spine
in another tribute you
would have hated
so that I may tell stories
of you to lovers
as they finger
my exposed back.

In your memory,
they are green and hearty.
In reality, they were white
and succumbed to last season’s
frost, snapping off at the roots –
tender perennials,
crisp brown lies.
Gram, they died.

by Daryl Sznyter

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Editor’s Note: This poem presents the complexity of grieving with honesty. The last line offers understanding.