If I Leave
by Carol A. Stephen
If I had never slept in barns, nor called
a cellar home, might walls have held me
safe from tractors I could never drive?
If I could ride, would the furrows be straight,
narrow trenches filled with rain, the promise of each seed?
Yet, I’ve tilled myself a garden, made a home
for frogs to hide under inverted clay pots. They wait
for flies, their tongues curled, sticky with anticipation.
If I leave first, bury me with a memory of my garden:
a blackeyed susan, blue delphinium,
or an explorer rose, everywhere thorned and twisting.
Scatter the petals of spent blooms in the doorway,
crush them underfoot. Their scent will hold an answer
to when or why. Do not cry then. Walk the old growth forest,
scatter my memories among roots of its oldest tree.
Give what remains to soil and sky, and with each kneeling
do not speak of what’s gone but listen: in the movement of trees
a voice echoes each blade of grass. Your upturned palm
returns my energy to the universe.
IMAGE: “Flower Garden” by Gustav Klimt (1907).
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Began as musing about the grief process and a well-known poem “Do Not Stand By My Grave And Weep” by Mary Elizabeth Frye (1932).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carol A. Stephen is a Canadian poet. Her poetry has appeared in Bywords Quarterly Journal and two Tree Press/phaphours press collaborative chapbooks. You can also find Carol’s poems on-line at thelightekphrastic.com and in videos at treereadingseries.ca. Twice shortlisted, in 2012 Carol won third place in Canadian Authors Association National Capital Writing Contest. She’s the author of three chapbooks, Above the Hum of Yellow Jackets, Architectural Variations, and Ink Dogs in my Shoes (2014), as well as a collaborative chapbook with JC Sulzenko, Breathing Mutable Air (2015), and a chapbook of ekphrastic poems, Slant of Light (2016). Visit her at quillfyre.wordpress.com.