by Jared Carter

Weekends she still finds time to work
in the yard, cutting and bringing in
flowers that grow there, half wild:
old-fashioned flowers of the kind
her grandmother tended, that come up
every year roses and peonies, lilies
of the valley, iris and gladiolus
and after they have been in the house
for a few days, they begin to fade,
to scatter themselves across the table,
the marble stand in the hallway. Each
has its own way of falling: roses,
one petal at a time; Queen Anne's lace,
a rain of particles so fine you could
write your name in it; flame-red
poppies that seem not to change at all,
until you reach out, unbelieving,
and touch the vase that holds them,
and the petals fall in a quick cascade,
brushing the back of your hand.
__________________________It is like
the motion with which a woman steps
out from the middle of a skirt
and stands there for a moment in
that new center; or the way a man
carries some heavy thing, some trunk
or crate, up a long flight of stairs,
and puts it down at last, and is free now
and has that strength inside him.
She gazes at the lines of her body
in the mirror; the house vibrates
as he comes back down the stairs.

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