Whenever I drive by that old, abandoned farmhouse
with the orange daylilies blooming
against the white-chipped siding,
I always wish for planter’s hands--
for a green thumb that could
summon life from the ground
that could revive the apparently dead
with its electrifying touch.
Whatever I plant dies--
not immediately but in time.
I will forget to water the geranium;
its red petals will scatter
like SOS signals across the table
its leaves will shrivel
and all systems will go on high alert
doomed to a purgatory of half life
until I remember the necessity of water.
By then, it’s often too late.
You, on the other hand, must have never forgotten.
Your internal clock must have been set
on a schedule to protect what you cared about.
Your family—your house—your gardens—
Must have always burst out in bloom.
Sometimes I can correct the damage of my neglect.
Sometimes the smallest drink of water
can miraculously revive a drooping leaf.
Sometimes in minutes it’s possible
to see the leaf regain its posture
as it pulls itself up from the soil
like a ballet dancer finding her feet,
but I imagine you never let things get
to that stage of desperation.
I still drive by your old farmhouse
and see your orange daylilies bright against the chipped white siding
The hearty blooms, the lush leaves--
Your legacy written in petals,
your garden remaining behind you.
Sometimes I stop to clear some of the weeds
or sometimes trim back an overhanging branch.
Then I feel how much I miss you,
even though we never met.
Stephanie Marcellus is an assistant professor of English at Wayne State College where she teaches creative writing and literature courses. Her stories and poems have been published in various journals and anthologies such as Prairie Gold: An Anthology of the American Heartland, Alligator Juniper and Blue Bear Review.