Poetry / May 2008 (Issue 3)

The Mourning Months

by Shirley Geok-lin Lim

Spring comes in March in triplicate hues,
Pink purple lilac, the color of gray
Women's scarves, variable shades of magnolia
Afloat on branches or petals loose
On grass. I tie up my sneakers--over
Sixty, out for my morning walk, a Dorothy
To eye more months. In June and July
The year will be blue jacaranda
Lining Cathedral Oaks, blue hydrangea
Swollen fat, drenched wet from circling sprays.

Today the vibrant peach buds poke
Open, vulgar as those she's embroidered
In the years after Father brought her home.
I was six years younger, she a mother
Swelling with babies. We never spoke,
Nor has she ever seen a real peach blossom.

Man is in love and loves what must die,
As do women. The Indian night jasmine
Ripens this Santa Barbara sky
As do the Sicilian-born mustard seed
And African jacarandas. I pace
Past day lilies looking somewhat
Like Wordsworth's daffodils, yellow as
Morning sunshine, bred, tamed, and plotted
In fenced yards. Yellow as the California
Wood sorrel thick sprouted beside
Pacific beaches, black mustard,
Lemon clusters sluggish with heavy bees.
Allergic in America I am running
Against the months, choking on the everyday
Pollen of nature, not daring, caring
Memory's bleached austerities.

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