Mother’s lilacs

She wanted to walk down the hill
of backyard lawn to see the lilac
in full bloom up close—prime
time for her favorite plant
at its fragrant peak.

So, as I watered the potted plants
on the patio, she carefully made
her way to the lawn, urging me to
come with her. Now that she finds
it difficult to detect nuances in
bright light and deep shadow,
I’m inclined to follow.

So I set down the hose, trailing
my mother to the slender tree
set into the ground years earlier,
after another longtime resident
had died.

It’s supposed to be a bush,
Mother said, but it’s tall—
not a solid profusion of flowers
but one oblong globe per branch.
She stood a respectful distance
away while I zeroed in on a
particular blossom for a sniff
and a sigh.

Still, she was not close enough
to inhale that heady fragrance
she loves, so fleeting it’ll disappear
in a couple of weeks or so.

Let’s go see the other one,
she said, already heading
off across the grass.

Though she couldn’t see it from
where we stood, she knew that
the other lilac had twined itself
amid the towering oleanders, and
when she reached the shade line,
she stopped.

Can you see them? she asked.
Yes, I said. Right in front of you.
Overhead, too. It’s dripping with lilacs.

Still she stayed rooted, and, reaching
for me, put her slender, ringed
fingers into my hand so I could
lead her slowly into shadow.

Oh, now I see it, she said, freeing
her fingers to touch and linger
on the tight clusters.

Here’s one low enough to smell, I said,
but she didn’t move till I took her hand
again and guided her to the nose-high
blossom. She inhaled, smiling into lilac
memories rising with the molecules
of a scent she has long loved.

Oh, yes, she said.
Oh, yes.

And we stood in the shade together
a bit longer before moving, each of us,
back into the light.

You can hear Jan read this poem here.

Mom and her lilacs / Photo: Jan Haag

About janishaag

Writer, writing coach, editor
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2 Responses to Mother’s lilacs

  1. Kathleen Goemann says:

    Beautiful. Writing flowers mother love ❤️

  2. Kent Borrowdale says:

    It was as if I was there with you and Mom. Loved the picture with the purple top.

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