By Nancy Haskett
Modesto Branch, California
The tulips from your memorial service are open now,
the vase sits on the windowsill,
yellow, orange, purple, dark red petals, translucent like bone china,
lean on long-leafed stems, a gentle bend from the vase.
Outside in the back yard,
the mourning doves are nesting in our Boston fern,
bright goldfinches eat from the feeder along with white-crowned sparrows,
like your collection of ceramic figurines –
the Lenox china blue bird, robins, dove, golden crowned kinglet,
displayed on shelves in your apartment, carefully positioned in the china cabinet,
and I picture the way you fed the birds in Sunriver,
mashed peanut butter into cream of wheat,
spread it on the feeders, stood in the yard, arms outstretched,
the chickadees landing on your hands, your palms held upward,
the way you lived your life.
you asked that your cremains be placed in the earth next to both husbands,
in a cemetery miles away, rarely visited.
So we saved some ashes before the burial, mixed them with a few of my father’s,
scattered them in Oregon –
at the base of trees and plants near your two homes,
under the large cross at the community church,
around a bench placed in memory of your closest friends,
into currents of the Deschutes River.
This is how we will remember you –
not in the ground on a Palos Verdes hill,
but under pine trees and bitter brush, among tiny purple blossoms
in the groundcover that blankets the berm –
a part of Sunriver, perhaps to be touched by birds, deer, or the squirrels you loved,
at rest under clear blue skies
and at night,
a million stars