Grandma nourished mixed calla lily
bulbs—invasive subterranean rhizomes—
in cedar planter boxes hand-hewn,
tenderly pruned long slender stalks,
cradled chalice-shaped flowers
over her wrinkled arms, safeguarded
lavender, maroon, and ivory blooms
like a botanical holy grail. Priceless. Pure.

The floral master created cascading bouquets
for us—grandchildren she dubbed little perennials—
to carry around the house in solemn processions
mimicking wedding pageants or funeral cortéges
as portrayed on television and at the cinema;
she encouraged creativity, taught us to spray glue
on blossoms, threw handfuls of glitter on sprays,
wrapped stems in lime tissue paper tied with gold bows.

We circulated treasures and hoarded nothing
gifting mom our best—as always—back on home
neglecting a disaster zone: Grandma’s kitchen table.

Author, poet, educator, Sterling Warner’s works have appeared in journals and anthologies including STARDUST REVIEW and DANSE MACABRE. Warner’s creative collections include RAGS & FEATHERS, WITHOUT WHEELS, EDGES, MEMENTO MORI, SERPENT’S TOOTH, FLYTRAPS, and MASQUES: FLASH FICTION & SHORT STORIES. Currently, Warner writes, hosts readings, and enjoys Washington retirement.