Laura Hershey


(In memory of T. D.)

Sunflowers above, all around you, like sentries stood --
not watching, not watching you, who distrusted even good
friends and lovers watching too closely, spurned our concern. Sunflowers
let you watch them while you worked and slept, long hours
alone, keystrokes connecting you to friends and lovers from your ill-lit room.
Between pronouncements, endearments, naps, through the all-day gloom
you'd look to them for light -- not literal light, which you'd shut the shades to exclude,
but the cheer of their yellow faces. They modeled an attitude
you sought to adopt: open-petaled, strong-stemmed under hot sun,
droopy-sleepy but happy -- and if happy itself couldn't quite be done
symbols of it would do. Fueled by mania, you built a kitschy collection -
sunflower stickers, kitchen towels, pencils, screensaver -- to which the affection
of friends and lovers added gifts of sunflower stickers, photos, cards.
On your door you painted blooms. You planted real ones in your yard.
Your life, your small trailer filled with sunflowers, like spices essential for flavor.
Even in the darkness, you did yourself this favor.

Laura Hershey is a poet, writer, trainer and activist. Her poetry has appeared in Sinister Wisdom, Ragged Edge and several anthologies. She has written articles for Ms. magazine, the Progressive, Women's Studies Quarterly, Sojourner, the Denver Post and other publications. She is currently enrolled in the MFA creative writing program at Antioch Univeristy Los Angeles. Her website, Crip Commentary, features her columns, art and poetry.