Black Velvet

a black velvet petunia


Her neck rises from the white lace
necklaced with a black velvet band soft
as her pink and purple garden petunias.
Syllables of velvet from a tender perennial.
Flowers blackened by Death still blooming annually.


Emily created as a young girl (before the poetry) a herbarium in which she collected 424 flowers from the Amherst region. She called them “beautiful children of spring,” and arranged them in a 66-page large leather-bound album with labels of the common names and sometimes the official Linnaean ones. All are in her elegant handwriting. I don’ think she had a black petunia in the book, but I think she would have liked the flower.

Emily’s portrait with her black velvet band

A poem by Emily – #334

All the letters I can write
Are not fair as this—
Syllables of Velvet—
Sentences of Plush,
Depths of Ruby, undrained,
Hid, Lip, for Thee—
Play it were a Humming Bird—
And just sipped—me—

Death Cleaning

It’s not dusting, vacuuming or straightening up.
It’s permanent organization for your everyday life.
It’s the cleaning your family would do
after your death, being done by you.
Clear conscience and shelves in the afterlife.

 

Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter 
In Sweden, this is called döstädning, dö meaning “death” and städning meaning “cleaning.” Clearing out unnecessary belongings can be undertaken at any age or life stage but should be done sooner than later – before others have to do it for you. This method for putting things in order helps families broach sensitive conversations, and makes the process uplifting rather than overwhelming.

A Hole in the Sky

sky hole

For Laura Boss

“Every living thing is turning into something else.” – Ovid

All of your poems that remain unwritten.
Promises to and from family not kept. 
Urn of ashes on a son’s mantle.
Things read aloud to laughter and tears,
now lost in the country of time.



Laura Boss was an American, award-winning poet and a friend and mentor. She was the founder and Editor of Lips poetry magazine for four decades. Laura died on April 9, 2021, after a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer.

Mourning Cloak

underside

A mourning cloak on a cool morning
on a walk through the cemetery.
It is quiet but for whispered prayers.

She touches a headstone in the sun.
Her yellow skirt escaping the dark cloak.

top view

Nymphalis antiopa, the mourning cloak, is a large butterfly native to Eurasia and North America. The immature form of this species is sometimes known as the spiny elm caterpillar which has a toxic substance in its hairs or spines that can cause a very painful reaction if you touch it,

These butterflies have a lifespan of 11 to 12 months, one of the longest lifespans for any butterfly.

Ash Wednesday

I hope to turn again one day –
turn from dark death thoughts to life,
to rise from the fire into lightness,
floating like the ashes that rise above
the flames and escape to the sky.

I hope to return to this time
lent us, because I hope the garden
will return from under snow, because hope
is dusted upon the slender one standing
in the distance, haloed by the sun.

 

palms to ash

This double Ronka poem owes something to T.S. Eliot’s poem, “Ash-Wednesday”, which begins:

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn

listen to T.S. Eliot reading the poem