Burying Ground

June nights my mother worked the yard,
pruning American Beauties, dead-heading
petunias, the gummy velvet of spent petals
on her fingers. Tom Seaver
blows her a kiss from the t.v.
on the patio. She watches
his twist and muscle, prays
for extra innings, the floodlight
to come on, the kids
to stay in bed. I try

to remember what I know,
what I saw from behind the curtain:
edge the beds, cheer the Mets, wait for morning
to sleep –- never happier
than when she moved in her own time.

I force the trowel down,
four inches for hyacinth bulbs,
tulips deeper for more dark, work-in
fatted narcissus: Sir Winston Churchill,
Pheasant’s Eye. How much icy grip
is needed for bloom?

I rub my knuckles, fret
over the spring to come.
These short days refuse
to budge. All I can do
is dig, grip this trowel
as if it is my hand that opens
the ground – as if I am
that trowel held by her.

from Connotation Press: An Online Artifact, www.connotationpress.com, December 2010