Flower Conroy

2021, Poetry

IN THE GRAVE WITH YOU

There’s a family-picnic
photo in which my great-great grandmother
sits with her daughter
& grand-daughter; beyond
them in the background,
my mother bends
to lift me up. Five generations
unintentionally snapped:
why hadn’t someone
thought to gather & pose us?

That which comes out at night,
slinks back under the carriage
of sun, dragging
its shadow
through shadows. A moth dress
unraveling in a
spider mansion.
Too often I forget my mother
lost her mother
before I mastered
walking. How that must haunt her,
a first daughter with an only daughter.

For 9000 years,
as this earth
mutated into glass & steel, pixel
& wire, Bäckaskog’s
gracile skeleton
crouched in a pit.
Since the only grave-goods found
were a spearhead & flint,
the discoverers christened the bones:
Fisherman, forager.
But the body spoke
for itself: paleo-atomic pelvis
corrected hunter into huntress, womb.

She was 45. Her funeral occurred
during the springtime. Birch
& hazel blooming. Metaphoric
birthing. Wake
of forest, a remembering. Nervous
& circulatory systems
tripping; then a floating
sensation. But the soft entry
of a leaf lighting on water
compelling surface into ripple
is still a violence upon the water.

In the mud, animal
prints linking
the infinitesimal.

I want to go back ask
my mother’s
mother’s
mother
what she remembers of her
mother,
was she thin & grey-eyed,
did she sing, what was her
favorite flower—trumpet
lily, morning
glory, daffodil—simple inquisition
until I plunder
through the begettings to walk
among the towering oaks
& elms
& ashes
& arrive
at the riverbank where Bäckaskog
stands enduring
grief, the water rising,
& deliver her, stone in the conifer dark,
from our long season
of secrecy.


LGBTQ+ writer and former Key West Poet Laureate, Flower Conroy’s first full-length manuscript, Snake Breaking Medusa Disorder was chosen as the winner of the Stevens Manuscript Competition; her second collection, A Sentimental Hairpin is LGLGBTQ+ writer, NEA and MacDowell Fellow, and former Key West Poet Laureate, Flower Conroy’s first full-length manuscript, Snake Breaking Medusa Disorder was chosen as the winner of the Stevens Manuscript Competition; her second collection, A Sentimental Hairpin is forthcoming from Tolsun Books.  Her poetry will or has appeared in American Poetry Review, New England Review, Prairie Schooner, Michigan Quarterly Review, and others.