My (My Father’s) Makeshift Purple Heart
For my father and his father
The peonies, pansies, hydrangeas, flowering kale,
the roses, calendula, coneflowers, marigolds,
they blossomed under your touch that last summer--
Grandma remembers watching you, in the garden,
weaving a wandering yellow rose through a trellis,
then doubling over, grasping to uproot the thorny jungle
that stealthy tendrilled through your lungs, your brain.
And that autumn you gathered and packed seeds in Smuckers jars,
And meticulously aligned the shovel, shears, twine, the bamboo stakes, too,
on the musty plank shelves of the single car garage:
a how-to for beginners, authored by an old pro.
That spring, missing you,
Daddy and I set out to clear the rotting things from the spring beds.
And so we stood side-by-side before the shelves,
not wanting to disturb the dust, because one we reached--
Sunlight peered through a small garage window,
warmed our faces, and Daddy took hold of one ¾ filled jar
packed with dried purple flowers, bursting with black seeds,
and exposed it to the dusty glow
We went inside for a drink.
Grandma pulled out the Wisniak and we toasted, and toasted,
to our roots: an indissovable knot binding us together
so we never forget how to bud like morning glories
each time we step into each other’s light.
These crocuses, my (my father’s) makeshift purple heart,
I plant upon your grave to be coaxed to life each spring,
smiling in shades of purple, whispering through saffron trumpets
the secrets of digging in and taking root.
Niki Falkner is an English and Creative Writing teacher in picturesque Upstate New York, where she resides with her husband, son, daughter, dog, and perpetually hungry goldfish—actually, they are all hungry, all the time, for snacks, cuddles, and really good stories
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.