Mary Meriam

A Tragedy of Flowers

She says she is my mother, I'm her daughter.
I take a photo of her by the water,
blueberry picking, and her smile flowers.
But she abandons me in darker hours,
and so I search in the surrounding fields
for any mother-love the landscape yields.

There is a farmer with his summer yields.
I visit him as if I were his daughter
then nestle in the hollows of his fields
beside a tiny trickling stream of water,
and I weep there long and hard for hours,
twisting chains and whistles out of flowers.

There is a garden of my mother's flowers.
I wonder if the fragrances it yields
will tranquilize my mind for all the hours
I have left to be my mother's daughter;
or should I cross the muddy river water
or turn around and traipse the same old fields?

A herd of deer is bounding through the fields,
fleeing afraid, although I offered flowers.
They vanish in a hurricane of water,
and nothing in the sad sky-weeping yields
to prayers and wishes from a boggy daughter.
How much longer, harder, are the hours.

A storm's been threatening in the east for hours
and now I see it move across the fields.
It slashes lightning near the house's daughter,
my porthole's thunderstorm advances, flowers,
retreats, the way my mother never yields
a drop from all her barrels full of water.

My mother's flowers drink her howling water.
She caters to the flowers' needs for hours.
The creeper weaves, the blossom bends and yields,
and all around my mother's garden, fields
the farmer plows bow neatly to her flowers.
I wonder if she notices her daughter,

or if her daughter is a boat of water
sinking for hours or a clutch of flowers
strewing the fields until the tempest yields.

Garden State After the War

O mommy, mommy, watermelon red,
my life is like a watermelon seed
you spit. Each night you tuck me into bed,
I need a spider swatted, or I need
the fruity sweetness of a juicy slice,
or whatsoever things are pure and true.
A bedtime story would be very nice,
your hidden past, the fact you are a Jew.
The watermelon's heavy in the bag,
and whatsoever things are good and just
are heavy too. O sweet and bitter drag,
the red, red flesh and rind of mother trust.
You are afraid, and so am I afraid.
Goodnight again, goodnight, my masquerade.

To Lillian

Some summer nights, it seems like you are mine,
a lilly dream grown out of loneliness,
when all my sepals, stems, and petals pine,
and I can almost hear you saying yes.
But no, your flower bed is closely tended.
There's nothing you can do with my bouquet.
The past and all its sorrows have been mended;
likewise, my lilly dream should fade away.
Should fade away as summer flowers fade,
petal by petal falling to the ground,
singing a sad and lonely serenade,
wilted and dizzy, lost and strewn around.
It seems the lilly dream is mine to keep,
pressed tight inside these pages, fast asleep.


Mary Meriam is a poet from rural New Jersey with an MFA from Columbia University. Her poems are published or forthcoming in Literary Imagination, American Life in Poetry, Sixty-Six: The Journal of Sonnet Studies, The Lyric, Light Quarterly, The Raintown Review, Tilt-a-Whirl, and others. Her chapbook, The Countess of Flatbroke (afterword by Lillian Faderman), was published by Modern Metrics/Exot Books and received an award from the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice. Another chapbook, The Poet's Zodiac, was a finalist in the 2009 Robin Becker chapbook contest at Seven Kitchens Press. She's currently editing an anthology of sonnets for Exot Books. Visit her website.


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