their gentle aunt
when I refer to my three
as those boys
that’s nothing compared to
what they call each other
I tell them
as far as I’m concerned
you are all
© Jacqueline Jackson 2006
Three days after my father died, after the funeral, after the confusion had begun to die down, the family, free of intruders, sat around the living room without any more words to say. By the fast-moving standards of our world, it was time for things to get back to normal. I looked at the anniversary clock, on top of the television, where the hour hand and minute hand were quietly joining each other at the 12. Time for Dad to come home for lunch. I went to the kitchen with my 2-year-old brother at my heels to heat up a can of tomato soup. Nobody but Dad ate tomato soup in our house. I punctured the tin before I realized that he wouldn’t be coming home.
Lola Lucas’ poem “Floral Arrangement” captures that sense of the big, gaping “What next?” that follows the rituals of death. — Carol Manley, guest editor
Mom insisted that I take the vase
Of flowers home — like my aunt’s eulogy
They were one-sided in their beauty.
My car smelled like a funeral parlor;
I could scarcely wait to throw them
out the next day.
I couldn’t, though. Some buds were still
And it seemed just too awful for them to bloom
In the dark amid coffee grounds
and table scraps.
They stayed on the counter all week,
Unfolding their petals, in their own time,
to the light.
Lola L. Lucas is a Springfield poet and columnist. Her book At Home in the Park: Loving a Neighborhood Back to Life, a collection of essays about Springfield in general and Enos Park in particular, is available in town at Barnes & Noble in the Illinois-authors section, at Prairie Archives, or through online booksellers.
Send submissions to Jacqueline Jackson Presents People’s Poetry to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Illinois Times, P.O. Box 5256, Springfield, IL 62705.