Variation on a theme by Heather Mackay Young

It had not died, but it had declined,
The swarming mass of silver tendrils
Snaking unkempt through the slotted

It had been a Mother’s Day gift to my
Grandmother, whose dark eyes on that
Day became like                 gold.

Not long after,
              She gave the orchid to me,
                            To give it proper sun, maybe save it.
I put the unresponsive patient on my desk,
And watched it grow colder.

It is Mother’s Day again, and now
I have a somehow-blooming orchid
                            with four dewy flowers
And a widowed grandfather.

                                                           I did not
Want this miracle. I did not want to believe
That grief can be so full. How I wanted
The miracle to be the surprise of her smile,

Framed in delicate white, the purple of her
Cheeks and nose in bright array, joy
Visible in the yellow of her singing tongue.

I would want the first thing she saw
With the whiteness of her living eyes
To be gold.

I would want the first thing she felt
On the pallor of her living skin
To be the sun.