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MY MOTHER'S GARDEN I David Wagoner What she planted there lived grudgingly, if at all, Through the glaze of winter And the near-flooding of April when sandy soil Washed every promise Away under the snow, leaving the roots Of roses hard in sunlight, brittle as August. Yet she persisted, transplanting every flower That came to her door, Replaced the dead with the already wilting, Carefully spreading Their cramped roots into water-filled, grim Burial mounds covered with fallen petals. She wrapped small plastic tents around them, hoping Against hope some oxygen Would stay where it had been or some blossom Keep on breathing Whatever there was to breathe in that dead air Filled with false promises of living for years. Even her weeds were scrawny. She let them live Like fair examples Till they went to seed beside the hopeless cases Who seemed to learn Nothing worth knowing about staying alive. She was too tender-hearted to uproot them While they still held some greenness in thin veins. She treated that graveyard, That narrow nursing home like a nursery. The funeral wreaths Were the flowers themselves, their branches Year after year as empty as her vases. 8 ■T h e M is s o u ri R eview ...


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