Wednesday, April 6, 2011


I cleave to winter, unready
for the rains, washing away
all traces of the seasons we witnessed
together. My unclean palms pressed

in prayer, I am penitent, mumbling
offerings to the gods for second chances,
redemption from the ghost-bones of grief.

I cannot bear how time moves
from then to now to now and now,
how the melt follows the freeze,
how the purple tulips spring
from our abandoned garden, blooming
despite neglect, how this beauty hurts
my eyes, squinting into sudden sunlight.

But we are not flowers, wintered-over,
nor the inevitable greenish buds, pushing
up through tree bark. We are not
the dead grass that will green again
only to die and green again once more.

No, we are wet as common garden mud, stuck
or cracking and turning to grit. We are borne
on the winds and carried across an ocean,
where we once emerged, salty and breathing
painful air into nascent lungs.  And we are
the breath before dying.

© Ami Mattison

Photo courtesy of Dru!


  1. A very satisfying, coherent piece that really gets cranking in the third stanza and sweeps on relentlessly to the somber ending of tired acceptance that somehow still seems to carry a faint elusive smell of hope. Even though that third stanza is just doing it for me, I also love the ghost bones. Loved it all actually, AM.

  2. "I cannot bear how time moves"

    I love that!

    Purple, or "black" tulips, called Queen of the Nights, are my favorite flower.

    PS--you stole my garden mud!!!

  3. I cleave to the winter, as well. "We are the breath before dying" is fabulous.

  4. oh the breath before dying...i like...and i like being mud too...mainly cause us boys like mud pies you know..but that is where my unclean hands come from...nice little journey you took us on ami...

  5. I cannot bear how time moves
    from then to now to now and now--

    This gave me shivers. This really drudges up some old hurts for me. Very moving. I also love the ghost bones.

  6. Your third stanza could stand alone. It's fully contained.

    "ghost-bones of grief" and "we are /the breath before dying": excellent lines.

  7. beautiful word flow.
    we get confused, but life, the change of season is divine...

  8. I'm going to reiterate lines others have already mentioned, the last line is such a good ending. And "from then to now to now and now" is such a great line; that last "and now" totally makes it. I like all the negatives and how you build on those ideas: inevitable, unready, cannot bear, not flowers.

  9. Exquisite work. It couldn't be better!

  10. This is fantastic... so much is going on in it, tension between motion and stillness, life and death and everything. Could pick any one of these lines to be a quotable gem. Very cool. :)

  11. Beautiful line breaks, Ami. Love the clinging mud turning to grit.

  12. Seriously...

    me, April 3rd:

    "(I am) as plain as garden mud"

    you, April 6:

    "we are wet as common garden mud"