Friday, October 7, 2016

Today's poem by Susan Moorhead

The Botanical Gardens Gift Shop

We all wear the same things, bright scarves, artful earrings,
shoulder-length or cropped graying hair. Groomed yet
somehow vaguely askew, our reading glasses perched
on top of our heads, forgetting to wear them as we squint
at the narrow lines of print in a gardening book, in a collection

of meaningful quotes. You in the linen jacket, you in that apricot
cardigan wrap, the woman on line who shares a rueful smile
with me, a stack of blue and green cotton napkins in her arms
and another book she doesn't need. The wave of affection
I feel for these women surprises me at first until I realize,

oh, I know you. These fine lines on our brows etching proof
of worries and years of smiling, facing things that have blessed
or shattered us. I have seen you put on your brave face at the
doctors, or the nursing home, at the hospice, or the funeral
parlor as you rise to greet the next person and the next moment,

and the moment after that one, all hard. I know the effort made
to achieve that polite public response, yes, I'm fine, thank you
for asking. I know the moments you have failed, the private
breakdowns, the pointless arguments with God, of being so
tremendously alone you cannot take your next breath. But

then you do. I know how you chin up and try again. How
you reapply your lipstick with a shaking hand and then open
the door, shoulders back, and enter the world. To some,
your actions might look like small things, inconsequential.
I see you choose a child's book on gardening for perhaps a
grandchild or a niece or nephew, because one is never
too young to learn how to rise up each year and bloom.

Susan Moorhead

from The Night Ghost

Another poem by her on the blog here.


  1. Thank you for sharing this, Nan. Beautiful poem.

  2. Beautiful! The last line took my breath away.

  3. Oh, goodness, Nan, this poem echoes my day today. I love it. It made me tear up, and really describes my day. The Arboretum's gift shop, reading specs on my head, the wonderful book I bought for my grandchildren about collecting leaves, the scarf I almost bought, the gratitude bench I discovered, and, if you can believe it, how, entering my car I heard my name "Penny, what are you doing here?", a friend whose last trip to the Arboretum was 10 days before her husband died . . . thank you for posting this.

    1. This gives me shivers, Penny. Unbelievable. Thanks so much for leaving a comment.

  4. A blessing of a beautiful poem...I did not know this poet. Thank you, Nan!

    1. She is quite, quite wonderful. Please do click on the link and read about her, and the other poem I posted.

  5. Oh my, I am so honored! Thank you, Nan!

    1. Your readers are the ones who are honored!

  6. Nan, there is an article about the milkweed floss on I just typed milkweed for life jackets in the Google question box. Then went to We didn't have much milkweed where I lived, but my brother and I scoured the neighborhood for metal scraps, and were thrilled to find an old water heater in a vacant field. Had to get an adult to take it in since we couldn't lift it!

    1. That is amazing, and something I had never heard of. And I love the story about the water heater. What a great memory!

  7. Love this poem.
    I really like your header photo too.

  8. A very beautiful poem ♥ Happy Sunday♥

  9. Joining all the others in appreciation of this poem. Damp eyed here! What a gift to be able to put all this down in words such familiar feelings and happenings and make them valued. Yes, I too bought books for grandchildren today. x

    1. I so love what you wrote. Susan is a wonderful poet.

  10. I love her descriptions- I could see/feel everything!

  11. I love how this poem starts with their surfaces and then just dives in deep, clear-eyed, and all in an ordinary gift shop setting.

  12. I just re-read this poem for the second time and absolutely love it! I know how you chin up and try again. Such powerful words. I'm saving this poem and will take a look at her others. Thank you so much for sharing this gem with all of us.


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