When My Mother Forgets the Word for Dahlia by Robin Turner

“Picking a favorite dahlia is like going through a button box.”
—from The Old Farmers Almanac

When My Mother Forgets the Word for Dahlia

it is February. It is the last day of her 84th year,
the latest day in this ruthless unspooling of days,
of pandemic lockdown, its cruel isolation
and winter, all the gardens covered over,
all our lives fallow, fallow. When my mother forgets

the word for dahlia, tall flower as familiar to her as a daughter,
its name soft as psalm on the tongue, it is yet another day
of all the distances between us—every long year apart,
every rocky geography, every hurt forgiven and not
forgiven. And in that instant every distance opens wide

its spacious arms as every distance collapses and gathers, as dahlia waits
snug in its button box to be found, tucked just out of memory’s reach until it passes
like miracle into me, blossoming into speech— dahlia, I say through the phone
and into my mother’s frustrated silence, her solitary sorting, sorting, sorting.

I give her back the beloved, the favorite flower, the one
she knows but can no longer name. When my mother forgets
the word for dahlia, I drive in a blinding rain to the wizened women
at the nursery called Blue Moon. They will know. They will
know the flower I have come for.

by Robin Turner

Robin on Facebook

Editor’s Note: The imagery and repetition in this spectacular poem effortlessly supports the heartrending emotional narrative with dignity and a hint of the desperation felt by the speaker.

5 thoughts on “When My Mother Forgets the Word for Dahlia by Robin Turner

  1. The tender feelings for the mother build beautifully up to the closing lines:

    When my mother forgets
    the word for dahlia, I drive in a blinding rain to the wizened women
    at the nursery called Blue Moon. They will know. They will
    know the flower I have come for.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A beautiful and heartrending poem. A striking line: “the latest day in this ruthless unspooling of days,” Loved the repetition of “When my mother forgets the word for dahlia…” and the enjambment. Thank you.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.