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I said magnolias,

you said, peonies,

how you remember her hands

tending them, day after day.

I imagine a grandmother’s hands

reaching into a profusion of blooms,

wrinkled and wise and tender;

it’s a good place

for the mind to wander.

Memorial Day.

You were so young,

and your brothers, one older,

one younger, even than you,

would cut the luscious stems,

and place them in a wagon

alongside empty pickle jars,

mayonnaise and jelly jars.

The cemetery.

You’d sell your bouquets

for fifty cents,

three big blooms to a jar.

What a memory,

and I imagined families

pulling up in lonely cars.

It’s the sixties,

and there are waves of Chevy sedans

with heavy doors,

hoods, stretched out in lines,

like plots.

We sold them all, you said.

And I’m not surprised:

regret in empty hands,

is no small thing,

as they walk toward their loss,

tombstones, which remind them

of loss,

of lack.

And then, the relief

when they can fill those hands

with the heft and smooth skin

of a glass jar filled with water,

and a few fleshy blooms.