After the embracing of his widow and children, the telling of stories,
the reading of the poem, the dedication of bench and tree, there in
the blued shadow of the high ridge’s own garden we sat down together
to eat, though some of us strangers, as friends, feasting once more
on the recollection of full-bellied joy he always served up silently
in mounds of fried chicken and deep-dished macaroni and cheese.
As if a sequitur his older sister pointed to the early thin shoots of golden
forsythia that rattled against the glass vase’s lip in the subtle breeze
and said “When these bloom it’s time to start cutting back the roses again.”
And I and the others, who knew nothing of that, nodded to the certain
gardener’s plain-spoken confidence of sequencing: plant, nurture, behold the
glory in the vivid bloom, prune, and then expect a fuller blossoming again.

–first appeared in Wisconsin Review