by Gwendolyn Clare
Crocus, daffodil, tulip, iris —
She measures the progress of spring.
In April, she walks
down to the creek to collect
fiddlehead ferns, her back stiff as she bends
to pluck them from the fresh earth.
She steams them and eats them
cold with vinegar.
The hummingbirds return each year
on Mother’s Day, knowing how their thirsty industry
is a gift to her. The only gift
she receives, but it is enough. She,
of the barren womb and fertile touch,
can expect no other.
Her children are all green and have
no gifts to give, except themselves.
Some are satin-smooth, fragile as an insect wing;
some are prickly all over and impervious
to the cruelest blizzard.
They all speak quietly.
She listens with her hands,
the skin wrinkled and tough as
paper from the butcher’s, the nails stained
with dirt. What meditative peace she finds
in her botanical parenthood,
in the simple act of sensitivity.
These verdant children
content her. Surely.
But sometimes, when a summer storm
passes, leaving the night damp and cool in its wake,
she watches the sky and wonders. The thunder
fades and the stars wink on, one by one.
Perhaps she could have had something more.
Gwendolyn Clare has a BA in Ecology, a BS in Geophysics, and is currently working to add another acronym to her collection. Away from the laboratory, she enjoys practicing martial arts, adopting feral cats, and writing speculative fiction. Her short fiction has appeared in Flash Fiction Online. She can be found online at gwendolynclare.com.
Poem © 2010 Gwendolyn Clare. All other content copyright © 2010 Abyss & Apex Publishing.
Art Director: Bonnie Brunish