I have irises that have been handed down through my family over the generations, being dug up again and again, moved to another house, another garden. Here’s a poem about that sort of inheritance, by Debra Wierenga, who lives in Michigan.
Your pansies died again today.
All June I’ve watched them scorch and fall
by noon, their faces folding down
to tissue-paper triangles.
I bring them back with water, words,
a pinch, but they are sick to death
of resurrection. You planted them
last fall, these “Chillers” guaranteed
to come again in spring. They returned
in April—you did not. You who said
pick all you want, it just makes more!
one day in 1963,
and I, a daughter raised on love
and miracles, believed it.
American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetrymagazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2011 by Debra Wierenga, whose most recent book of poems is Marriage and Other Infidelities, Finishing Line Press, 2007. Poem reprinted from the Nimrod International Journal, Spring/Summer 2011, Vol. 54, No. 2, by permission of Debra Wierenga and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2012 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.