The Queen

Some of my mother’s irises always bloom
for Mother’s Day – she never cut them
but a wind-broken stem would be vased
though it saddened her looking so alone.
Flying white standards, bearded with purple falls —
the closest she ever came to royalty.

Royal Storm bearded iris

iris parts

Yellow Chrysanthemums

My mother asked that no cut flowers

be at her wake, so her favorite,

yellow chrysanthemums, filled the room, then went

to be put in the September ground.

Two years. Blooms of Elysium’s October gold.



In writing this poem, I reread Thomas Hardy”s “The Last Chrysanthemum” which contains this stanza:

Why should this flower delay so long
To show its tremulous plumes?
Now is the time of plaintive robin-song,
When flowers are in their tombs.

I also thought about using the word “wake” and wondered what the origin of the usage relating to death and funerals. It is from Old English (wōc) and wacian meaning ‘remain awake, hold a vigil’ and the Dutch waken and German wachen, meaning to watch.