One joy shatters a hundred griefs.
On my desk sits a neatly made napkin packet marked: RED HOLLYHOCK, 1998. It was an out-of-the-blue gift given to me by my sister Karen who took the time to pinch a hundred or so seeds from flowers growing wild along her yard’s chain link fence. She was thinking of me in our decade of tears. So, instead of buying flowers, she thought I should grow my own.
I must have put them away for next season. Nearly two decades have passed before I find the packet still intact. Now when I squeeze the napkin with my fingertips, I can feel the hard nib of seeds. Iwonder. Still, winter. I can only imagine flowers.
Hollyhocks, pink, red, white, growing short and tall, near a stand of mailboxes that face Round Pond, make me lonesome for the days when we ‘d pluck these ruffled flowers and fashion them into bouquets and sell them to our neighbors who planted them. I remember going door to door with our cardboard tray of bouquets. Flowers, for sale, we’d sing through toothless grins. Hardly, a door closed on us.
Revenue: to return, I think twice. The packet of seeds has a certain weight and shake. Not negligible, by any means. I hold onto it. Not in a sentimental way— no, not that. Instead, I’ll admit that I’m waiting for an answer. How loss and lost can still breathe these many years? Will joy bloom in one of these seeds?
M.J. Iuppa lives on Red Rooster Farm near the shores of Lake Ontario. Most recent poems, lyric essays and fictions have appeared in the following journals: Poppy Road Review, Black Poppy Review, Digging to the Roots, and many others. She is the Director of the Visual and Performing Arts Minor Program at St. John Fisher College.