Summer 2004

By Mary Anne Libby

One Sunday afternoon’s perusal of the seed catalogs
and we are off –
In the midst of a gentle, deep snow
we can dream of sweet peas, turning the names of varieties
over and over in our minds, on our tongues.

Matucana, Cupani, Mrs. Collier, Painted Lady, and Little Sweetheart.
Mammoth mix if you want big and gorgeous.
I conjure the fragrance,
deep rich close.
Sweet peas are a scent from decades-ago
their blossoms are the summer frocks of my grandmother, my great-aunt Loll,
as they meandered up the walk
the hems of those long dresses skimming
the edge of the flower garden,
whatever my father had planted there.
Their laughter.

Sunday night I dream of my grandmother gathering
roses, sweet peas, lilacs, snapdragons.
I am no longer her small granddaughter
but myself, now, fly-away white hair.
Her fragrance is sweet violets, sweet peas, lily-of-the-valley.
But wait,
your own stake in sweet peas, always higher than mine,
overtakes my dreamscape, and peoples it with your interests:
there is a plant breeder, there the seed folk
carefully tipping wrinkled nuggets from palm
to yawning envelope.
That dry clatter overtakes what my grandmother hardly utters.
Those seed folk are a merry bunch, and multiply fast.
They are partying up my dream. It’s getting crowded in here.
Hey, I say, I don’t get to visit with my grandmother much,
do you mind?
Get your own dream, fill it with farmers and gardeners, go ahead and
spout variety names, disease resistance, just
keep it to your own side of the bed.
Me, I want to pause awhile with this old lady.

Monday morning I awake, hoping you remembered to order
the Mrs. Collier.
I think she was in my dream. Or maybe yours.


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