Metaphor for Lilies (Covid 19)
if it wasn’t for the old ones,
we’d be dancing through this sickness
with zinfandel wine and stacks
of rice, beans, coffee, milk,
all the necessities to survive
while making a cup of coffee i wonder
if our grandmothers will die before we are able
to buy them any more flowers.
every Easter my mother gives Grandmama
white lilies, which could represent doves, signs
of salvation, or any kind of metaphorical bullshit.
i’ll add my own metaphor: my grandmother’s face,
planted in soil. three lily faces are sleeping
inside a plastic pot
first face: she stands in blue skirt and white blouse,
brown curls gripping cheeks younger
than mine are now. did the photographer
add that pink blush to her cheeks?
does she know what is coming?
second face: she stands against the background
of dark kitchen cabinets, wearing the same kind
of white blouse but her hair isn’t brown anymore,
graying against the whole-body fever
blush of her skin in middle age.
can she feel the sickness creeping closer?
third face: she wears a pink jacket over the white blouse
and holds a birthday present, peering past pale tissue paper
because she can’t remember that she already
opened this one, so she will reopen
the truth of the future and keep
I wonder if she knows
that we have kept away because we love–
isn’t that the way it goes? we keep away
from what we love to keep it safe?
I bought an orchid and watched it slowly wither,
turning black, first the flowers, then the leaves,
as it sputtered dead on the kitchen stove
I’ll go to the edge
of my grandmother’s driveway, waiting
until it’s safe to see the lilies again, withered,
but still hanging on, reaching
their petals toward my waiting body
from behind the screen door,
that lonely picture frame