Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Buried on the Lone Prairie

Mrs. Cranberry dug a trench in the flower bed
just to the left of a row of tulip bulbs.
Her son Ensen knelt down in the upturned dirt,
his arms cradling a silent bundle.
Cotton-Candy's mews had long since died,
her body stiffened like an icicle.

"This past winter," he said, "an icicle
fell point down in this very spot, this snow bed
that'll now hold my Cotton-Candy. She's died
now, Ma, she's really gone?" Her little bulb
of life is passed, Ma agreed, as she bundled
her thoughts together. Earthen smell of dirt

rose to her nose, a test, she thought of the scented dirt
harrowed by Mr. Cranberry last spring, after all icicles
had melted and they'd laid their bonny lass, bundled
in a tattered quilt, pulled from her straw bed,
in the yellowed prairie land. No daffodill bulbs
had been planted then, but now, where she'd died,

they circled her grave, waving as if nothing could ever die
again. Why did she die? Ma's tears fell in the dirt
making splotches of mud, like minature dirt bulbs
into which Ensen laid Cotton-Candy, stiff and cold as an icicle
"Ma?" Mrs. Cranberry looked up, her heart a bed
of cut glass, "Yes, Ensen?" "Could I make a bundle

of money by going around and praying for the bundles
of children that died last winter? You know, died
from the fever?" His mother stepped back into the bed
of flowers, shocked. But his face showed no malevolent dirt
despite that he'd stabbed her through the heart with an icicle
of words. "No, child, prayers are free," she whispered, as if a bulb

of emotion were stuck in her throat. "Instead, take these bulbs,
dig them up, and sell them for a dime a bundle."
He saw the tears on her face, a pendent spear, an icicle
of sadness, sliced down her cheek. Thoughts of his cat died
as he jury-rigged a basket of bulbs to sell with still-clinging dirt
on their opaque skins. Ma laid Cotton-Candy in her last bed.

Sunshine on the bitter cold creates icicles that drip into bulbs
below where the bearded iris, in its bed, unbundles its arms,
casts off the dead leaves and emerges like a fluted horn from the dirt.