Magnolia Bloom

Magnolia Bloom

We climb the park’s tower,
my eldest brother and I.
He points out a lovely
white blossom in a tree
I identify as magnolia,
its thick green leaves shiny
with Florida sunshine.

Nearby are other blooms,
older ones, bent on decay,
white tepals yellowing,
sliding, one by one
to the forest floor,

and I think of you, mother,
who were once so splendid,
blooming and bearing the fruit of us,
ourselves now slowly wilting,
the frost of age tinging
our skin, old men maintaining

the illusion of youth only
so long as you yet lived,
a bloom we mistook
for steel, a proof against
our own mortality until the day
you dropped entirely
to the forest floor, fading
into dusk, then darkness,

leaving us shocked, aggrieved,
and afraid, knowing our own
time comes soon now.

Just as you knew me, seeing
through fading eyes, as
a callous fool saying
I’d see you anon, you
ill and angry, me
wasting precious time
on denial and work,
and doctor calls

rather than staying, your
hand in mine, waiting
with you for the fleshy parts
of your life and my fear
to fail and fall away,
and I’m sorry, Mom, sorry,
eternally, unquenchably sorry.

The old magnolia turns malignant
as my brother walks away,
whispers closely so only I can hear
that it knows I am. It knows.


For other poems, see Fiction/Poetry