Small Clocks in the Garden
by ZenChristian

I heard somewhere once,
that flowers are the worst condolences to give
when a loved one dies because soon enough,
the flowers will die too. But maybe, it’s because
they’re always bought and never planted. When mama passes,

I don’t know what the world will continue to look
or feel like or how my body will react when her absence
finally hits me. But I do know, I’ll plant a garden
of orange marigolds in the backyard by the porch. I know
that there will be no funeral or peace lilies resting on casket. No one

will put her body in the ground. No loved ones will be forced
to mourn her in public because mama has never been one
for funerals. I think I get my dislike for them from her.
They often seem like spaces to validate our sadness
to one another. Like the passing isn’t real

unless there are witnesses to your grief. Maybe that’s why
she couldn’t attend her father’s funeral. I don’t want that to be the reason
I don’t say goodbye to her or my father. But I’ve known for a while now.
that she wants to be cremated when the time comes. Body
wrapped in orange petaled flames then ash. There’s just something about it,

breaking that tether between spirit and this plane
by burning its vessel and setting it free. It’s more comforting
than burying a body close by just to visit it every day. Mama, deserves
more celebration than service. The day her soul is ready to leave us,
we will throw a party in her honor. Talk about all the ways

she flourished in this life and not the moments she would no longer
be there for physically. The orange marigolds will bloom strong in the garden
and everyone will plant a new one in memory of her. Sacred offerings
for such a sacred being. It is said in some cultures,
that when our loved ones pass, their spirits come to visit us

during the celebration and marigolds help guide them
back to this plane. The garden will become the beacon of our home, mini suns
that will never set, so she’ll always know where to come back to. People
often say that time stops when we die, like there’s nothing
but stillness on the other side. But what if it doesn’t?

What if it just moves differently? A lil slower? The common scientific name
for marigolds is Calendula meaning “small clock.” And I don’t believe
we could make and hold onto new memories without time
to ground them in space. Whenever that space may be. As long as the marigolds bloom,
mama will always have time. And each day that passes will feel like day 1 to us,

even when 365 days have passed but Sunday mornings
I’ll go out to the backyard and sit on the porch. Lite a cigarette
and let it burn to the filter for mama. Take a shot
of tequila for the both of us and just talk to her. For hours, as we watch
the small clocks in the garden, bend in the wind.


Feeling Indigo
by ZenChristian

lilacs lay frozen in the freezer
broke from the branch that used to hang over the back porch.
purple petals smothered in blue ice turn indigo:
lilacs, bruised enough to feel blue

enough to go numb or corpse. my grandmother was a lilac
with memories so heavy
she sprouted purple petals underneath her cranium.
so bruised, the blood vessels in them broke. because time

can inflict the worst wounds just as fast as it can heal them.
I was always told, the best way to heal a bruise
is to ice it. freeze the broken blood vessels and stop the leaking blood.
my grandmother felt bruised enough to block out the sun,

isolate herself and go cold til thoughts turned into ice
cubes. enough for doctors to diagnose her as clinically blue. a lilac
forever swollen with pain. so she froze
herself on the back porch. left loved butterflies behind to mourn

the loss. all forced to either starve
or find a new one. the ants carried her indigo petals underground
like a burial service and I became the butterfly
turned lilac that grew from a dying one.

I sleep in the freezer most nights
trying to numb the bruises blooming in my joints. They’ve flourished
the most on my spine. bruised petals weighing so heavy,
my vertebraes gone crooked over the years and some days

I’m indigo enough to sleep forever
which is not to say i don’t ever want to wake up again. I do.
I just want to freeze my bruised petals
long enough for them to heal themselves without feeling like

all the butterflies in my life will starve, in my absence.