Last Rites of Summer

Updated on December 3, 2018
snakeslane profile image

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.

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Verlie Burroughs


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      • snakeslane profile imageAUTHOR

        Verlie Burroughs 

        3 months ago from Canada

        Hi Genna, thanks so much for reading, I am thrilled to see your comments. Merry Christmas to you too!

      • Genna East profile image

        Genna East 

        3 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

        As I read your words, my mouth forms a silent, Wow!"

        "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...."

        and more.

        I love where your mind takes us, Verlie. Just stunning work.

        Merry Christmas! :-)

      • snakeslane profile imageAUTHOR

        Verlie Burroughs 

        4 months ago from Canada

        Thank you Leland (what a nice name). I am beyond thrilled at your generous comment, you are too kind.

      • Leland Johnson profile image

        Leland Johnson 

        4 months ago from Midland MI

        Verlie- I loved reading your poems. They have such depth and yet are modest. As I read imagery was forming in my mind effortlessly. Only a great writer can impact people that way. Great job.

      • snakeslane profile imageAUTHOR

        Verlie Burroughs 

        4 months ago from Canada

        Dear Peg, you of all people would appreciate the significance of the treasures we keep and store away. These 'objects' have so much meaning, and tell the story of one's life. I agree it is important to respect that. Thank you for reading these poems so carefully, and your kind feedback.

      • snakeslane profile imageAUTHOR

        Verlie Burroughs 

        4 months ago from Canada

        Thanks so much Mar. I don't know how it happened, exactly, but finding that little cowboy figurine was like some kind of epiphany for me, like finding a key to a door that was locked. Peace lady, I knew you were a tree hugger lol.

      • PegCole17 profile image

        Peg Cole 

        4 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

        You have the ability to say so much in so few words. Your depth of feelings was enhanced by the beautiful piano selection. Stormy weather is a true winner.

        I especially liked the imagery in Cowboys. It reminded me of a dear friend whose treasures were wrapped up and stored for so many years only to be discarded by disinterested relatives once she was gone.

      • marcoujor profile image

        Maria Jordan 

        4 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

        Dear V,

        I'm listening to this piano selection - I have referred Fabrizio to several students and colleagues - truly a gorgeous talent.

        I am a tree hugger from way back - something else we have in common.

        In this collection, I was especially moved by "Cowboys Don't Go To School" - a moving tribute to your friend.

        Love you and have a peaceful day, Maria

      • snakeslane profile imageAUTHOR

        Verlie Burroughs 

        4 months ago from Canada

        Rinita, thank you, it is so nice to have you read my poems, the feedback is appreciated. I like what you say about pain vs joy, you may be right. Although it can be overwhelming to write about (and to read!). I'm always whining about winter, I think it gets worse as I get older, I don't know. Thanks for your encouraging words.

      • Senoritaa profile image

        Rinita Sen 

        4 months ago

        Oh Gosh, I can't pick a favorite. They all transport you to many different worlds. Just when I was busy falling in love with your gardening beauties, in came "Stormy weather", and changed the whole setting. There's something in that poem that proves pain's worth over joy in any form of art. The last two poems follow suit with voices of their own. Hold on, poet, Spring shan't be too long.

      • snakeslane profile imageAUTHOR

        Verlie Burroughs 

        4 months ago from Canada

        Wow Bill, what a nice thing to say. Right back at ya my friend.

      • snakeslane profile imageAUTHOR

        Verlie Burroughs 

        4 months ago from Canada

        Morning Mike, thank you again for taking the time, you are too kind my friend.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        4 months ago from Olympia, WA

        You are a person I am proud to know...true, only through your writing, but still you have depth and heart, and it is a pleasure to call you a friend.

      • mckbirdbks profile image


        4 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

        Hello Verlie - There is so much tenderness found here. And a longing for Spring. Your poetry is as delicate as your flower pedals.

      • snakeslane profile imageAUTHOR

        Verlie Burroughs 

        4 months ago from Canada

        John, thank you. I'm so happy you appreciate.

      • Jodah profile image

        John Hansen 

        4 months ago from Queensland Australia

        These poems were touchingly beautiful, Verlie. Especially Plans and Cowboys Don't Go to School. Excellent work.


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