Words in Rows, Poetry and Prose (2016) is a collection of the author’s writings, spanning 50 years. She describes it as “an autobiography in short takes.”
The Red Leaf
I have a soft place in my heart
for flowering plants that are past their prime–
plants that struggle to maintain some ghost of their former selves–
plants that will doubtfully ever again, look like they did at Dillons.
Many were given as gifts,
others were purchased to add pizazz to some celebration.
Brought once to their glorious and most sellable selves
by gifted nursery people and huge shots of fertilizer,
they are now used up, sallying forth on skinny stems,
valiantly supporting a leaf or two.
Some of these plants have been hanging on for years!
Taken outside into the Kansas heat in the summer,
fried, and then brought back inside,
they winter over in a basement by a cold north window.
And, they live! Are they not to be admired?
Just the other day,
I walked past my poinsettia plant–
a spindly, spare holiday survivor,
and it had one bright red leaf!
This was not a leftover
from four months back.
It was a new red leaf
shouting at me: TADA!
It was brilliant!
Our human stories are much the same.
Pumped up with hormones in our youth–
passionate, invincible, smothered in blossoms–
our long legs tanned and straight, it seems
one day we are buying lipstick at Dillons,
and the next day, we are staggering from the car
in search of the prune juice aisle.
Some may rally later, against all odds,
to solve mysteries of the universe,
or write a poem.