- Petty Theft
Forsythia will forever remind me of my mother stealingbranches of it outside the Doubletree Inn in Murfreesboro, Tennessee,for her mother's funeral. Stupid strip-mall side of town we'd gone to for Starbucks,caffeine fortification and an Office Max to print the programs. That's one facetof the end: your family scrounging the city-side for something pretty as tribute under the eyesof Ruby Tuesday patrons. Here I am, still young, young-ish, no kids, perchedin the bland middle swath of my life, wondering what I'll pilfer for my own mother's ceremony. Her ownpurple irises, perhaps, or if in winter the prickly stalks of thistles, brownand old but holding magnificent crowns of snow: translucent sculpturesof time I'm taking from some future to let melt in my present embrace of eventual grief.I know each moment I poach just repopulates. Something borrowed is the standard rulefor weddings; something stolen, my new protocol for funerals. Here I am, young, my whole lifeahead of me! Whole life-ish. I shouldn't dwell on any of this. It's the start of spring. Everyoneis still alive. Everyone, within reason. The yellow branches of forsythia are fireworks, sheddingbright sparks in piles on this parking lot. There's a Starbucks nearby, no matter where I go.There's a big box store, a row of measly ornamental shrubs, a tree or two.There's the present where everyone lives, now studded with moments I've robbed from a timeI imagine, in which a child watches me scavenge the landscape for bits of beauty,learns how to do it herself. [End Page 65]
Rosalie Moffett is the author of Nervous System (Ecco/Harper Collins, 2019), winner of the National Poetry Series. She is also the author of June in Eden (Ohio State University Press, 2017). She has been awarded a Wallace Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University, the "Discovery"/Boston Review prize, and scholarships from the Tin House writing workshop and the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. Her poems and essays have appeared in Tin House, the Believer, Narrative, Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, and other magazines. She is an assistant professor at the University of Southern Indiana.