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Last Rites of Summer

Verlie Burroughs is a west coast writer from Vancouver Island.


Last Rites of Summer

In a garden now grown dreary
michaelmas bent in purple poses
and the leaves gone from the roses
I dig holes in the mud
for sweet spring allium.


Old Lillian is full of plans,
the garden will be smaller next year -
a good load of sod should do it,
garden into grass.
Leave room for a row of beans.
Keep the grow box for greens.
I help, but I don't have the
heart to plan for an
empty plot, she laughs at my
hesitation, knowing her garden
grows in another dimension we
we don't mention.
Strawberries, and rhubarb carefully relocated.
A border saved for dahlias why not.
I want an arbor for the roses instead.
Maybe next year, she says.
We discuss this quietly, putting the garden to bed.

Kiss of the sun for pardon.
Song of the birds for mirth.
You're closer to God's heart in a garden
Than any place on earth.

Author: Dorothy Frances Gurney

Beach Road

Spruce stand sentinel
wind carved swept sand, stark sky high
driftwood wall, washed blue.

Senryu VI

The oldest living Spruce tree is believed to be over 9,000 years old (in Norway). It has regenerated itself through layering. Spruce can grow as tall as 200 feet.

Tree Hugging


Stormy Weather

Wake with a crash
Screen door smash
Storm winds lash

Roll over in bed

Wind howls overhead

It's November that I dread

It's November that I dread
The calling of the dead
In every wave awash in my head.


The Last Poem - Notes

This last poem veers away from the garden, and the summer ending, but I place it here in keeping with the theme of last rites in honor of a dear old friend.

Cowboys Don't Go to School

At the funeral they told stories about her. Funny stories
only family would know. And everybody laughed.
How she was not a good student, how she'd daydream,
and draw horses in her workbooks.
I laughed too, but later I cried when I helped sort out her belongings.
She had so many porcelain horses, from her childhood
wrapped in newspaper, packed away for forty years
But just the one little cowboy, still smugly smiling
in his brittle yellow paper wrap.

© 2018 Verlie Burroughs

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