May 23, 2013
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I stand at the gates of my Grandfather’s garden
as a voice that’s faint with memory
and rough with years of stale tobacco smoke
and the Georgia Mountains he so long ago
left in his dust
colors the new spring air.
I can almost see Cotton smiling,
brushing back white hair, his eternal namesake,
and laughing,
“What took you so long?
I’ve had the garden to myself all day long.”

And he has, my grandfather.
He planted his roots deeply into this clover patch,
spent his days perched in a dirty old lawn chair,
plucked last traces of luck from his garden
as his tired old heart tick-tick-tocked,
a bottle of pills lying unopened beside him:
the final clattering warnings of just another
over-zealous doctor
who never bothered to explore
the promises of a four leaf clover
like Cotton did.

Cotton, who knew the clovers like his own face—
knew the luckiest places in the patch,
the old stories half lost in family lore,
and the beauty of a clover bathed in sunshine.
Cotton, who watched every summer day,
listened as clovers began to breathe in deep gulps of autumn air,
exhaling winter,
before they curled up beneath the first fallings of snow.

The clovers who dreamed through it all—
through the last whispers
and tick-tick-tockings of a broken heart,
and the clatters of too many pills in a bottle
hitting the bottom of a stretched plastic garbage bags.
Through the last nails in coffin lids,
the shovels parting hard earth,
and the cries of black clad mourners.
Through the pad of feet on soft graveyard snow,
and the last icy relics of winter—
through everything until today,
the muddy Genesis of another spring.
Today, when there’s one last visitor
and a still empty lawn chair.
Because today the gates of Cotton’s garden are
slowly creaking open
as I listen to the melting
the waking
the shallow breathing of
resurrected clovers.

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