My mother plunged her hands into the dirt
like a woman who knew she couldn’t bear fruit.
The roses were her children, calling through
the salt hay, through the storms doors until spring.
The zinnias looked up at her with pink,
their almost faces, their peculiar needs,
requiring a mother’s touch, love
in summer when the beetles stretch their legs,
with barbs that bring her back into the room
where lighting from above was clearly not
the blue-robed Virgin Mary that she saw
above the neighbor’s house when she was young.
Her ring fell through a hole, was never found
like all the babies she would never hold.
Crystal C. Karlberg teaches middle school English. Her writing has been published in Mom Egg Review, The Compassion Anthology, Soundings East, and Scary Mommy Teen & Tween.