It was three below zero when she returned from the funeral
to a Fed-Ex bouquet box left on the deck.
Deep red roses with stiff outer petals encircled calla lilies
rimmed in ice crystals, like fluted margaritas.
She trimmed the frozen stems, peeled the outmost petals,
cropped the lily tops, put aspirin in their water.
The next morning the exterior edges of the lilies and roses had darkened,
so, the same surgery and nutrients, then the next day, and the next.
That sundown she gathered the whittled, withered buds in her arms
and let go, when even hope cried out—enough.
Nancy Austin was born in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, has lived on both coasts, but prefers the land between. She relishes time to write in the Northwoods. Austin’s work has appeared in journals such as Adanna, Ariel, Midwestern Gothic, Portage Magazine, Sheepshead Review, Verse Wisconsin, Writer’s Resist and the Wisconsin Poets Calendars. She has a poetry collection titled Remnants of Warmth (Aldrich Press/Kelsay Books, 2016).