Poetry | Kelley Rattinger
My mother was a florist.
She arranged flowers in beautiful ways
so that others might fill the gray places of their lives with color.
Her flowers brought joy to new lovers, and
a beacon to old lovers who had lost their way,
they gave a color in common to last minute prom couples
who realized as they stood awkwardly together on a stranger’s front lawn
that they had nothing in common,
and they gave pride to the mother who could now get the perfect picture
of her beautiful daughter and the handsome boy she’d never met,
but who did a great job with the corsage,
they provided a distraction for mourners
who needed something more alluring than the
curiously still body in the front of the room,
and, in time,
warmth to the cold stone
that binds it to the ground.
Sometimes she would bring a flower home to me,
perfectly trimmed and just blooming, so that I might
enjoy it longer.
But her flowers didn’t start out perfect.
Some had thorns and sharp edges,
little dangers that she would remove
so that others might fill the gray places of their lives, without hassle.
half her life through these
little dangers, until her fingers grew calloused
and the dirt beneath her nails got stubborn,
and while I admired my pretty flower, she sat
late at night, the lingering scent of
a hurried dinner still in the air,
scraping away the dirt,
an occasional comment about how
ugly her hands had become.
My mother was a florist, and her hands were once soft.
I wish I could hold them and show her
those gray places, before her flowers came,
so that she might look down and see her hands