Magnolias in the Spring

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With the cherry blossoms blooming and temperatures now hitting 80 in DC, we’re clearly through with winter, and fall is a distant memory. It’s a new season, so it’s time for a new poem! Since the one year anniversary of my mother’s death, I do feel that I have turned a corner, and I’ve been going through huge transitions, as I navigate this second year in the world without my Mother. It’s hard and messy, but there are glimmers of hope, as I now turn some of my energy back outward to the world. For several weeks now, I’ve been struggling to write about Spring, and this next phase in my grief and life; yesterday I went to the national arboretum and got the inspiration I needed, to take strands that had been bubbling up and weave them into this poem.

Magnolia

I
Forsythia immemorial,
daffodils and primrose
seethe unaware contentment at being alive,
as if it’s just another spring –
but my seasons of loss keep increasing.

Wresting myself from the meat hooks,
I climb from the depths like Inanna.
Cracked open hard ancient ground beneath my feet
flies apart.
I lay out a path,
repurposed mismatched flagstones,
uneven, ill-fitting
winding away from my front door –
can’t connect it to the road.
Every night I dream I’m diving
or in the car:
last night Mom was driving
and we sang “A boy like that.”
Without mother and grandfather
how do I bend back to the Earth
and plant lettuce, kale, and sugar snap peas?

I know this tree by many names.
We called God “Father” but knew our Mother,
perched in Her branches,
planning magnolia futures,
brazen tulip poplar youth,
soul singing,
voices dipped in clear water
remembering our baptism.
No wonder at vespers
in the space between breath
we accepted their version of heaven.

Why did we have to dab your cracked lips?
Why didn’t you show gratitude
by coming back to life?
Presbyterians and evangelicals
doubters and faithless
held your hands,
as we looked death in the face
and lost.
Forsythia can fuck itself.
And yet –

I’m finding ways to forgive
the flowering quince.
With crocus already bored,
tulips take their turn, iris seize the horizon.
Patriarchal faiths are wise to imitate
Mother Earth’s natural resurrection.

II
Bridal procession
white passion
spring tree canopy.
I didn’t plan for this.
From our Victorian flirtation,
Heavy-lidded hidden passion,
we emerge
to prove our humanity
with the same fear of death,
clinging
to false security
hawked by lifetime appointees.
Bound to promethean rock,
truth is the fire
I’ve stolen from the gods –
every change is a tiny cascading death.
But what if we all said,
Yes!
And saw that it was good.
And ruled the world
with our dripping clits.

A bottomless gaze
shows what’s possible,
for love is as strong as death.
I draw down clouds
and sip from my hand.
As my tears,
as the river flows –
to be drunk
and shared,
I slowly open to Spring
with compost aspirations
and joyful shy magnolia blooms.

© 2013, Rebecca Gingrich-Jones

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