Names of Flowers
One day they will plant me deep in dark brown earth.
Family and friends will pass and throw in handfuls of this rich moist stuff.
Thuds against the plain pine box will send shudders through the company.
Huddled and brave, and not so brave, they’ll stand around and watch.
Above them in the center, the bluest sky belies their pain.
Tall progeny…you are so beautiful!
Come back in spring and see the sprigs of sweetness spread all around.
I never learned the names, but the petals are delicate and pale.
My mother knew the names of flowers but kept the secret safe.
In the South, they know the names of things, prepare dainties for trousseaus, and “put up” the earth’s bounty, and use sealing wax.
“Dear Heart” she called me, “My Benjamin.”
But in the North, one becomes a communist, marries and divorces, marries and divorces. Break your parents’ hearts, and keep the secret safe.
Don’t give them names lest I grow flowers in my heart.
We buried what was left of her — gray granules of nameless parts. I volunteered to pry the tin and shake out the remnants of solid sadness into the dark brown earth.
My saplings, my seed — come visit me — go visit her. Learn what I could not possibly have taught you and speak the names of flowers to our graves.