This is a portrait of my great Aunt Flora. I made it from memory out of old drawings Cut into camellia blossoms and church fans. Her thin silk scarf printed with lilies of the valley Tucked under wisps of white chin hair. And thorny features bunched together like Milkweed and black-eyed daisies Glued on to crape paper with rawhide jelly. As I recall- she lived in a brick bungalow on top of a hill Where the smokestacks from Birmingham papermills Soured the air like last week’s chicken dinner. But my only memory of Aunt Flora’s voice Is the time she asked if I would like a glass of iced tea. If love was an object- What would it be? And how to describe it obliquely? Maybe the way light refracts through a tall glass Filled with iced tea Sweating on the kitchen table. A sacred tiny ocean becoming rainbow Leaving traces of a silver boat sailing backwards Across wrinkled pages of a letter Left unread- stationary. And a wet ring staining the left corner. And if love was an object Where would it live? Perhaps it would be found in an hour of patience Watching the ancient hall clock Inherited from Aunt Flora. That oak box towering near the front door With its ivory face and pendulum suspended. Counterweights asking through gritting teeth What time is it if there is nothing but time? Just this eternal moment- I replied. And if love was an object How might it die? My mother sitting in her burgundy leather recliner Covered by a plush blanket Bunched into a nest With enough room for that toy poodle in her lap. Her left leg stretched over the armrest Watching 60 Minutes on the flatscreen across the room. Big Gulp filled with iced tea Surrounded by stacks of cardboard boxes Choking with glasses and magazines and gifts never given. The things she cannot put to rest. I fear that when my mother goes it will be a relief Taking the memory of Aunt Flora with her Like a counterweight lifted into the air. And there will come a faint smell from the kitchen Like last week’s chicken dinner. And as the only child I will be left to sift through the Dozens of cardboard boxes and closets filled with pairs of shoes Piled on top of moth-eaten oriental rugs wrapped in trash bags. As I recall- we planted Aunt Flora in our garden Under the wisteria vine and Watched the patient hours slipping by As its cascading bell flowers Dripped crimson to the ground.