Long after my mother’s death, her white orchid still thrives. Perhaps its bamboo stalks provide something more than decoration. Were they the healing supplement I had missed that day in the pharmacy as I searched the shelves for an elixir that would save her?
I remember sweeping dozens of pill bottles into a cardboard box and carting them to the precinct that accepts such things, and then destroys them. The desk sergeant seemed unconcerned. He didn’t want to hear about my attempts to prop up what couldn’t or wouldn’t sit up in bed. He wasn’t interested in the first broken hip, the second, or the years that separated them. He couldn’t care less about the rare day my mother remembered my name. And that one time in three years we had a real conversation. About the pattern for my wedding china. How I gave in to my then-husband’s choice: Royal Copenhagen Blue Flower Braided. The first compromise of many. Something I had forgotten for 30 years. And didn’t wish to remember.
I put down the dustpan and approach the round green pot. The white petals look exactly as they did when Mother’s lips kissed them goodbye. Perhaps she left a message. Buried deep within the petals. Waiting all these years for me to notice. I pin back my hair, bend my head, and gently place my ear against the orchid’s wide mouth. A voice rings out.
“You never should have given into him, not on the china, not on anything. But you did. And look where it’s gotten you. Look at yourself. Just look.”
second collection of short poems, Carousel, is co-winner of the Snapshot Press
2019 book award contest. Her first short-form collection, The Unworn Necklace,
received a finalist book award from the Poetry Society of America. Her collection of
prose poetry, Deflection (Accents Publishing, 2015), was named a National
Poetry Month Best Pick by Washington Independent Review of Books.
Long-time haibun editor of Modern Haiku, Ms. Beary is also co-editor of
Wishbone Moon: An Anthology of Haiku by Women (Jacar Press, 2018), and she
recently judged the Sable Books Haiku Contest for Women Book Award.
Her writing has appeared in Rattle, KYSO Flash, 100 Word Story, Cultural
Weekly, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, and The New York Times, and is also
featured in A Companion to Poetic Genre (John Wiley & Sons, 2011) and
Haiku In English: The First Hundred Years (W. W. Norton, 2013).
Ms. Beary lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, Frank Stella,
and tweets her photoku and micro-poetry on Twitter [at] shortpoemz.
Roberta Beary, haiku poet and editor, on writing Haibun, interview
on YouTube (8 February 2021) with Mike Rehling, editor of Failed Haiku
Tiny Love Stories in The New York Times (8 January
2019); scroll five stories down the page for Roberta Beary’s “Now
It’s All Fresh Fish” and her photograph of lobster traps in Clew Bay,
art of brevity, an interview by Ciara Moynihan in Mayo News
(22 January 2019)
Lunch Break, a haibun by Beary in Rattle (#56,
Summer 2017), Tribute to Poets with Mental Illness; includes audio (17 July 2017)