The Color of Memory

I wait each spring,
watching the buds grow
on Grandpa’s peony,
flown from Oklahoma to Tennessee, 
tucked in a plastic grocery bag
when I came home from his funeral.

These fuchsia petals,
these golden stamens,
these rich green leaves,
are the colors of memory.

Grandpa carrying in a bucket
of yellow sweet corn,
giant red tomatoes,
and fuzzy green okra.

Grandpa planting in black earth,
Oklahoma red clay
coaxed into fertile soil
by years of care and compost.

Grandpa in crimson on game day,
in dark suit on Sunday morning,
in carpenter khaki off to work.

Grandpa in my heart, in my mind.
Grandpa love, Grandpa wisdom.
Grandpa always present, steady
like the peony bloom
that opens every spring.

Thank you, Creator.
Thank you, memory.
Thank you, Grandpa.

Find more of my prayers in my book Christ Beside Me, Christ Before Me: Celtic Blessings.

6 thoughts on “The Color of Memory”

  1. How sweet. For me it’s my dad’s red cashmere sweater at Christmas. Never thought of writing a poem about it. Thanks for the reminder of colors and memories.

  2. We have a family peony it came to Iowa in 1845 with John and Elizabeth Boley from Indiana. Sometime after Elizabeth died it came to MO with John. He moved to MO in stages as he helped establish farms for his children there while retaining the farm in Iowa which passed into possession of one of his sons. Probably when he finally moved to MO in 1893 the peony came to northern Missouri. That peony or starts from it passed to his son James and then to my grandfather George, to my Mother who took it to IL and then back to another part of MO in 1963. A start from it remains with my sister. I’ve often been curious if it came to IN from an earlier home. There were lots of peonies in the family yards and on decoration day (Memorial Day) the graves would be decorated with peonies and many of the Boley family graves have peony bushes next to the gravestones. I’ve tried to get them started by my mother and grandfathers gravestone, but the mowers keep trimming them away. Perhaps if I planted a mature set of plants they would recognize them for what they are. But that’s a chore for another day.

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