Death Of A Wildflower
by John Grey

That's not what I want on my head, she screamed,
not the white lace skull-cap.
Give me the pink-leafed hedge bindweed
or clusters of wild bergamot
The doctors could only push and prod
and the nurse was no help,
as she lurched this way, that way,
with her clicking, clacking medicine tray.
The woman in the next room
sniffed her black-eyed susans.
A ghost drifted down the hallway,
clutching a bouquet of oxeye daisies.
So why embroider her starched gray hair,
she wanted to know.
Why make it so pure and white
that it can only be a hoary winter evening
with the sun going down
faster than a poor cousin's bedside manner.
How about some pearly everlasting.
Why not a brocade of downy lance-leaved goldenrod.
Problem with doctors is
they want the dress to match me walls
to mimic the uniforms to ape the floors.
Even their most solemn speech is bleached.
The cancer's spread to the lung, they whisper
in dull monotone that cleanses the room of color.
No burdock, no fleabane, no bull thistle.
It's all white, the new darkness.

Copyright 2024 by Red River Review. First Rights Reserved. All other rights revert to the authors.
No work may be reproduced or republished without the express written consent of the author.