The Widow Plants Daffodils

Kristina Andersson Bicher

When you first tear open the brown paper sack
and peer down, don’t be alarmed at their nakedness,
how they huddle in clutches of six or twelve, some
with brittle skins, others bald, and all blank-faced.

Take them one by one, hold each in your palm,
the cream-white meat of its flesh neither heavy
nor light, its body a teardrop with roots.

Then choose a spade, edged with teeth, and cut a hole
twice-deep as they are tall.  And among grubs and glassbits,
make for them soft brown caves and line these with bone dust.

Then bury them.

But you won’t dream of their slender necks rising, the ruched
cloth of them, all that perfume spilt from loose cups.  No,
when cold clamps down around the house, you will stiffen:

shovel the walk and take out the trash in the dark.  Trudge
under the black bones of trees, trying to dislodge
from your mind the difficult man who left in late August
and your grown children gone.

You’ll forsake these humble onions you entombed.
But they, of whom you have asked the impossible,
they will not fail you.  So stop now, before you begin,

and take a moment to know their names:  Salome, Ice Queen,
Rip Van Winkle, Early bride.

Sponsored by the Friends of Rye Town Park

Kristina Andersson Bicher, "The Widow Plants Daffodils" from She-Giant in the Land of Here-We-Go-Again. Copyright © 2020 by Kristina Andersson Bicher. Used by permission of Kristina Andersson Bicher.