In the garden, a chickadee pecks at you,
kisses the ground nourished by your ashes.
paws, emerald eyes —
now burned to a chickadee prize.
The tangerine poppies have turned blood orange;
like lit Oriental lanterns
as we look for you
in nature’s patterns.
Is the bird’s song sharper from feeding on you?
Have you fertilized flowers to a deeper hue?
Cattails rise like questions in the morning dew.
We admired ancient Egyptians.
Painted boxes, families who cared enough to draw birds,
carry cakes and ale to their beloveds.
We did not cremate her.
We buried her like a sacred Egyptian,
tucked in relics: a lavender heart, garnet ring, Celtic holy card,
the papyrus of her poetry, photos of her Depression childhood.
When the parakeet died she found just the right shoe box.
She folded its blue feathers in with toys and seeds,
painted popsicle sticks green and formed them into a crucifix.
All that winter we waited.
In spring the potato vine blossomed
and stretched over our bird grave.
She believed in rituals — even miracles,
spoke of ancestors clawing sod with bare hands,
turning over blackened spuds.
Their larders bare, nothing to fortify them but prayer.