We plant a camellia for Joseph.
Friends come to help move earth, pat down, water.
We plant forsythia, irises, lilies,
make plans for more, later, after the last frost.
The camellias open wide,
drop one by one into bright ruby puddles on the ground.
On Joseph’s due date we watch a butterfly beat against the warm glass,
its wings translucent, tired.
We find each other’s eyes,
a synchronized intake of humid greenhouse air,
a little gasp of beauty, of recognition.
The irises bloom too early and freeze.
We bundle together on the futon,
hot tea in our hands, blankets and cats draped over our laps,
turn on the tv to give our swollen eyes a rest from crying.
The oak trees drop their long strands of pollen,
leaf quickly, full and dark green.
We plant azaleas, clear old leaves to give light to the emerging hostas.
We are ready now, too.
We chart cycles, watch for signs, begin to dream of the future.
It rains and rains and rains.
Our butterfly bush grows loose and unruly.
We wind the long arms of the wisteria around the new arbor,
sit on Joseph’s bench, slapping mosquitoes.
Our new fig tree bolts taller, and taller still,
grows one tiny green fig that doesn’t ripen.
We hold our breaths, hoping for new life.
The maples turn to sunlight and fire,
drop their leaves in a thick blanket.
The neighbor children come—
a tradition since before we moved in—
rake piles and jump in.
Joseph’s absence pulses in the silences between their shouts.
The buds on Joseph’s camellia swell again.
My belly, too. Tiny flutters of promise.
Our family of three has become a family of four.
We wait for the cold,
wait for the slow unfolding of blossoms,
Memory is a tricky thing. When I was writing this, I couldn't remember what else happened last spring. There is a long gap in my memory between January and June. A. read my poem and said, "I think sitting on the futon watching tv pretty much sums it up."
When you look back at the first year since your loss, what do you remember? Which memories float to the surface, expand, take over? If your loss is still new, what memories do you hope to make in the coming months? What have you done to honor your baby(s), both at the first anniversary, and along the way?