Holy Days in the Apple Pi Inn: Floralia, The origin of May Day, the goodness of flowers

It was once the custom to deliver a basket of flowers to the neighbors, ring the bell, and run. It is also a time to consider the questions of justice and labor, for we will reap what we sow.

a photo of a rose,
the memory of your hand
reminds me
of a planting springtimes ago.

A family crisis is in bloom.
Our drama of odds
our trauma of ends turns toxic
and finds its way home.

Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!

My chore in the chaos?
Keep watch on the meadow. Clean out the spring.
My part in the chorus?
Plant peas and potatoes, sensible things.

It’s hard to stand guard over Spring.
I tire of bland basics.
I weary of row upon rows:
I long for rings, rings of roses,
But who will conspire?
Who will plant dangerous things?

At ninety-three
you sit supreme in the swing
holding court on the porch with a calico cat,
a kind of coon dog,
and several stray bees.

I help you and the shovel ,
out of the shade.
The decision’s been made.
We go in search of the roses.

You sit. I dig.
You nod. I dig deeper.
You sigh. I keep digging.

“You work too hard.
You know, you work too hard.”

It’s the first of May, Flora, .
The green roots of nature
and the red roots of labor
tangle together in this country’s side.

I work among ghosts of victory gardens.
My fingers trace your calloused hands
on the worn handle, in the dark leaves,
under this green piece of land.

Should well-soiled hands receive a living wage?
Each turn of my spade reveals roots of your labor.
New things grew tender under your sun.
You were a May Day Queen and Sage.

Under the half-dead apple tree
on the first day in May
we spend an afternoon
as if Time is not Money
but Free.

“M’aidez!” Grandma. “M’aidez”.
Help me remember.
Fall is falling and winter closes.
Once we labored; it was spring,
and together we planted the roses.

Heather Murray Elkins (Copyright 2015)