The memories of springs and summers blend, fade, / like lyrics, movie scenes, people I never really knew.
I snap off fading flowers, drop them
into a bucket. It’s time-consuming—each bloom
lasts only a day—but it keeps the garden neat,
helps the plants pump energy to their roots.
A gravestone in Colma, California—a necropolis
incorporated in 1924, where the dead outnumber
the living a thousand to one—was all I ever saw
of my paternal grandparents. The pollinated
blossoms I miss produce seed pods. I leave
some for harvesting. They’ll eventually burst,
turn brown. Others, I snip off at the base
of their stems. When I was a boy, we drove
down every Memorial Day, bought two bouquets
wrapped in newspaper at the flower stand.
The pungent floral scents made me dizzy.
We placed them in the cement vases on each side
of the stone block, posed for a photo. On their own,
the unpollinated fall, become mulch, fertilize the earth.
The memories of springs and summers blend, fade,
like lyrics, movie scenes, people I never really knew.
It’s great to be alive in Colma! the city’s website says.
I don’t remember seeing their dates,
just the Japanese characters chiseled in granite
and in capital letters, my last name: KIMURA.