I wish I knew how to grow
with the single-minded purpose of flowers.
Up, up and ever increasing in beauty,
focused on the source of light and
undistracted by the tangle and clutter
of weeds and other plants nearby.
Neither thorns nor thistles
causing them to pause in self-doubt,
or think their mission would be better
if they were holding up
the heavy golden head of some other stem–
richness enough to be oneself.
The toddler tumbles like laughter
over the dry grass.
Disregarding all signs of mourning,
she chases the crows with open delight.
She greets everyone she sees,
all the mummy’s and daddies and “bapa’s,”
convinced each one is part of her family.
She even ambles after a thin, pink-shirted man
with a slight bend in his back,
calling: “Bapa! Bapa!”
When we reach her sister’s grave
she sits happily on my lap,
and leans over to pat the “Staahhh.”
I tell her it’s Josephine, a name she can’t yet say.
Unphased, she takes her nursing blankie
and flaps it about and pats it
until her sister’s stone is nicely tucked in
with her name peeking above the blanket.
“Baby, nigh, nigh,” she tells me.
Then grabbing her blankie
she trundles off to seek new adventures
and waves, “Baa-bye!”
trusting I will follow.
I kiss the dusty stone
Bare New Year’s branches
Bereft of last year’s splendour
Grasp the grisly sky