Autumn Sky Poetry . . . Number 16 . . .

Shrubs for the Northern Garden

     by Maryann Corbett

Forget azaleas.

Forget cerise and orange flowers,
their lipstick-counter colors loud as teenagers,
bursting over Carolina lawns.

The whole landscape of memory: put it away.

Learn not to think of dogwoods,
their cream blossoms arching
over the college walks and the lovestruck young.

Concentrate on what you still have.

On what has learned to be numb.
Lilacs, say. Not a sign from them
in all that freezing time, and then
coming to their senses for a fragrant moment—

Make careful choices.

Take forsythias. Some are sub-zero hardy.
They offer their clear yellow—
so stalwart, so ready to face facts—
early, before the snow has disappeared,

almost before you are prepared to remember

drifts of yellow over Connecticut hills
the spring when you kept flying back, watching
your name drop from your father's mind
like a spent bloom.

Maryann Corbett’s work has appeared in River Styx (click for .pdf), Atlanta Review, The Evansville Review, Measure, Christianity and Literature, The Dark Horse, and many other journals in print and online. New work is forthcoming in Poetry East and Subtropics. She is a Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee and a winner of the Lyric Memorial Award and the Willis Barnstone Translation Prize. Her chapbook, Gardening in a Time of War, was published in 2007 by Pudding House Press. A second chapbook, Dissonance, is forthcoming from Scienter Press.

© 2010 Maryann Corbett