for Paul and Betty Lampe
Other than watching sunflowers grow tall and bend
low, old peasants working the soil, I can’t tell you how
I spent the summer. Every line I wrote, I crossed over,
all my mistakes erupted into bare spots on each
gold-fringed face. Bees flocked to my tow-haired children
making me believe there was never any deprivation.
Labor Day chrysanthemums split open a black kettle of sky.
Weary crone heads could be cut off and dried. I bundled
sunflowers and hung them upside down from the porch ceiling.
At night they sighed from their nooses. My father, alone
for the first time, slept in our spare bedroom. I cut each down
one at a time to give him pillow after pillow of sunflower.
By morning clutching coffee sweet and light in clay, he said
that the night before he had dreamt of his own true love.
Never once did I want to know her name.