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Remembering Flowers

David Bottoms

Suddenly I considered lilies.
I’d never planted flowers, the soil in the yard too poor,

and me with no talent for nurturing.
But in that room where the paper robe, pale as a lily,

did nothing for the chill,
I remembered my grandmother on her prayer bones

in her flower bed, crumbling potting soil
through her grimy fingers

that some fresh bud might crop up from that mire.
And it did, I suppose, though I never gave

a petal of a flower a second glance.
But suddenly in that room of needles and charts

I whispered hollyhock, dianthushelenium.
Where did those words come from?

I knew nothing about flowers.
And, as though everything were still possible,

I remembered a flowerbed and a woman on her knees,

and resolved to stop for seeds—
daisies, buttercups, delphiniums, lilies . . .

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