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by Catherine Chandler

In flower language, the cinquefoil is the symbol of the beloved daughter, as the leaves bend over to cover the flower when it rains, as a mother would protect her daughter.– Cable Natural History Museum, Cable, Wisconsin

For Caitlin

Each spring she’d pick an early pee-the-bed
for me and say,
This for you, for Mother’s Day.
I’d put it in a vase, though it was dead,
and praise its droopy yellow head.

Then later, it was Loves me, loves me not,
for daisies know
more than a sprig of mistletoe,
or mothers who, it seems, know diddly-squat.
At least that’s what I thought she thought.

And when her lilac love had passed away
of cancer, she
said it with roses, gracefully;
came home, crossed out her summer wedding day,
chopped off her hair. Faded to grey.

How can a mother’s store of moss and cress
soften the hell
of marigold and asphodel?
Can timid snowdrops make a loss hurt less?
Often no. Maybe. Yes.

It’s time and thyme we’ll need; the flowering reed;
black poplar, white.
Cactus. Yarrow. Love outright.
The weeping willow and the wishing weed—
those dandelions, gone to seed.


Published in Soundzine


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