[Rank Memories II]

The old flower-bed slats

Are eaten and holey and fallen.

The weeds are rank in growth;

And wildflowers are at home.

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Familiarity eating inside me,

I pass through one age after another;

An ostracism from my own heart

Accompanies me.

You can't hoe the weeds where the dead go.

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Choked soil is not much good;

An unrich brown warmth;

No promise.

In sheer pretentiousness among the dead,

I laid aside my picking basket

Of wild herbs.

Then I began to dig,

Snatched and pulled from the tangled mud,

A life forgotten, some life barely recalled,

Maybe a life remembered.

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And I carry away with me,

On my mindless walk home,

Each step away hurting

More than the last as I come,

Three superb roses, thorned

But hardly wild.

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Thorns and dried petals for a press-book,

Stems still clinging to old dark earth,

Richer times past.

I left the flowers I brought to her

With each step away from the rank bed,

Each step I left her to old-fashioned

Worms that liked to deny any living

Of the flower-recipient.