High-ceilinged as a church, opaque plastic
stretched between plywood beams—this was
the flimsy greenhouse that kept my grandmother
blurred, her dandelion head moving in the maze
of azaleas she always helped come back. I was her
pupil, learning resurrection, cutting the begonia’s
veined leaves, drying them beside the open plots
of potted dirt. Even washed, her hands never lost
the mineral smell, the crocus’s rot darkening under
her thumbnails. After she died, no god or gardener
could bring her back, the house sold, they cleared
her greenhouse into a two-car garage, and someone
cut down beneath her window the prehistoric lilacs.
Each absence was a new life, a new death taking root.


James Allen Hall's first book of poems, Now You're the Enemy, won awards from the Lambda Literary Foundation, the Fellowship of Southern Writers, and the Texas Institute. Recent poetry has appeared in Radar, The Journal, Arts & Letters, and Best American Poetry 2012. He teaches creative writing at Washington College.