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A Life Told in Flowers


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In the beginning, there were peonies-
Painted pink and glowing, placed in the new mother’s hands,
Alongside the baby girl, pink and glowing.
And all were wet with smiling tears.

Then there were chrysanthemums,
A deep, dark pink to match the little girl’s slow, sweet blush,
Given to her as she took her first bow on chubby legs.
They were placed in a vase and looked after by her mother.

Next came the carnations, wrapped tightly ’round her lithe wrist,
They shone yellow like her new, elegant dress. She wore both with smiling eyes.
A spindly boy put his arm around her, grinning.
Her mother took their picture and waited until they’d left to cry.

Soon enough there were rich crimson roses,
The girl’s dress was white as snow, fluttering slighting as she made her slow, steady walk.
She gripped the roses tightly in her sweaty palms, while others sighed.
With weepy eyes, the mother said a kind of goodbye.
Her head filled with thoughts of peonies.

But too soon after there were lilies.
The girl placed them on the fresh dirt, and watered them with her tears.
Each pearl-white blossom reminded her,
That her mother’s crinkled eyes would smile at her no more.

The girl was given her own peonies before long.
As she lay there in a threadbare hospital gown,
She finally understood why her mother had cried.

With smiling eyes,
The girl (though she was a woman by now)
Whispered to her daughter, “One day you’ll get chrysanthemums, carnations, and roses.
And I will water them.
And I will watch you walk away, proud and tall,
As beautiful as the flowers you will hold.
Maybe you’ll even get peonies of your own someday,
But for now, they’re mine and so are you,
My little Lily, so tender and new,

Just think of all the flowers in store.”

And Lily grinned a baby’s grin
At the melody of her mother’s voice.

The room smelled of peonies.



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