Sixteen years ago on my desk it appeared:
A gift from my parents
To celebrate my new position,
A fresh chapter in my medical career—
A peace lily plant, young and tender,
With one newly formed white flower.
The plant continued to thrive,
Unfolding a white blossom once
Every three to five years.
Periodically I repotted the tangled roots
To accommodate its towering sedge-like stalks.
Just this month, a week before my daughter’s wedding,
It bloomed again—
The white flower unfurling like a flag,
Its cylindrical core dusting lush green languorous leaves
With powdered sugary seed.
I returned after my week away,
After attending wedding guests
And ferrying family from
Hostel to home and back again,
To find the listless brown-edged leaves of the peace lily
Draped across the carpet:
The white flower wilted, now edged in black.
Immediately I saturated the potted earth
With cup after overflowing cup
Until the water seeped through the soil
And percolated to the base of the pot.
Afterwards on my desk I found
A news clipping published the previous week,
Deposited there in my absence,
Bearing the obituary of the mother
Of two boys and a girl—three of my patients—
Deceased at age 42
From cancer of the colon.
Her face stared coyly out at me:
A black & white photograph
Depicting what I reckoned to be
A newly-wed young woman.
This morning the peace plant’s ragged leaves
Stand nearly erect,
Revived by living water;
While the wilted white & black flower,
Bowed in permanent prayer,
Has given up the Ghost.
Copyright©2009 by Brian T. Maurer