Sweet Peas

I saw you today
Laughing and joking with the girls
You were so happy
I didn’t know you then
I think you had fun being yourself
Without the fences

I imagine you during the war washing spark plugs
Laughing and joking with the girls
You were happy

I imagine you skiing down the hill
Riding the trolley

You didn’t have a chance to stay on that road
The times
The haunting
I guess you needed someone to take care of you
The fences

I did know you tap dancing in the kitchen
“I’m an old cowhand…”
Planting sweet peas
Teaching me to sew
The bingo games
I think you were happy

I did see the fences
The new jobs –
the snowmobile place, candling chicken eggs
The haunting

I saw you today
I shook my new red hair
I know you saw me

I saw you
Laughing and joking with the girls
You were so happy

Author’s Note:
I finally gathered the courage to dye my hair red. Well, not as red as I could, but it was a big step for me. Also, I had a new cut. It felt good. I spent a busy day and fell asleep in my comfy chair in my bedroom. I had a dream. I saw my mom, who passed away about eights years before, as a young woman working in a diner. She was a waitress, something she never did, and was having the time of her life laughing and joking with her friends. She saw me out of the corner of her eye and I shook my new hair cut for her to notice. I guess I wanted her approval. I know she saw me but she disappeard through a door. This dream was the inspiration for my poem. I woke up and quickly jotted down the emotions and images it painted for me. I guess I never really new if my mom had much of a happy life. What I call “the haunting” encased her in mental illness. My dad put “fences” around her to protect her. We had some happy and silly times, but I always felt she was in pain her entire life. Mom’s dream let me know that she is now having fun and doing what she wants without any interference from anyone or anything.


It grew.
Noxious, pestilent
turning and twisting.
Unseen, underground,
wrapping around and through.
Searching for the perfect spot,
the right time,
the vulnerable position to commandeer,
to choke,
to destroy.
Mortal triumph.

The descent.
First, poison to wither, tame,
not eradicate.
Then, masterful hands,
growing life.
Snipping, digging, rooting out
the sardonic grip.

The rains came.
Awakening the stillness,
nurturing, rekindling.
Flushing away the fear.
Her lavender flags,
stately and resilient,
beckoning me back to the soil.

It’s time to plant.
To grow strong.
To be nourished.
To be alive.

Author’s Note:
I wrote this poem several years ago as I was recovering from radiation treament and cancer surgery. I am a gardener and I was feeling ready to plant again. The gentle spring rains ushering in the blooms of my mother-in-law’s purlple iris inspired me to write. My biggest hurdle in that garden were the weeds. Nothing would kill them, just like radiation would only shrink my cancer and then it would need to be cut out.At the time of my surgery, I didn’t know that my surgeon was pregnant. Only months after in one of our follow-ups did I notice. I am here today because of her skill.