Memorial Day

May 29, 2020

Today’s poem is "Memorial Day" by Lynn Ascrizzi.  She is an artist, poet, freelance writer and gardener who lives with her husband, Joe, in a house they built in the woods of Freedom, Maine. Her work has been published in magazines and anthologies, including Take Heart: Poems from Maine, Take Heart: More Poems from Maine and the online quarterly, El*ix*ir Journal.

She writes, “Driving along the winding, up-and-down roads of rural Maine has proven to be a good friend to inspiration — a kind of incubator of poetic insights. Maybe it’s the monotonous hum of the tires or the rapid flow of passing countryside, but often, as it did in Memorial Day, something unexpected and essential arises from a seemingly familiar scene.”

Memorial Day
by Lynn Ascrizzi

On a back road
where a farmhouse looms
through early morning fog,
I drive past a man flanked
by lilacs and apple trees,
putting in a garden.

As retreating clouds lift
over fences and blood-red osiers,
he counts seeds in the palm
of his hand, in the rare
pearl of an unstained hour.

In a blurred instant, I share his holiday
and name him friend, though I scarcely’
know him and barely recognize
the small piece of myself transfixed
in the rearview mirror, as I try
to recapture a vision that tumbles back
into itself on the swiftly narrowing road.

So, I wave to the man wearing
work clothes and hat — to the gardener —
who has taken this day to remember
himself and to rebuild his earth,
who gathers fallen branches
to mark his planting lines,
tamps row after planted row
with the back of a hoe,
who knows by heart
what each cradled spark
yearns to become.

Poem copyright ©2017 Lynn Ascrizzi. Reprinted from Elixir-Journal #5, 2017, by permission of Sandra Lynn Hutchinson.