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Twenty Four Trillium
by Lyn Lifshin

Waxy in the moon,
almost iridescent.
My mother and I picked
them Mother's day in 74,

ten days after I drove
to the hospital, asked
Is my grandmother
ok? and they just said,

Go see your mother
She said when Nanny
died, her eyes opened,
wide and totally blue,

her skin was marble.
At five, I read in a
German book of morals
"Play with matches

and you'll burn your
mother up." I never
could strike a match
without bending it

into itself, as I
was sure I would,
crumbling without
my mother's arms.

The trillium glow in
the wind, wild, shaking.
We picked six or seven.
Next year, when they came

up I could feel the
squash of mud, see my
mother watching as I
leaped over ferns and

stones for these blood
jewels, snow flowers.
Each spring they spread
more roots. As my mother's

cheeks became caverns,
I knew the trillium
would mark more
than the spring

Lyn Lifshin's Website

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