After the incident at church, you pay more attention to the garden,
especially the plant growing wild in the dirt beside the manse.
Wide, well-veined leaves of soft green disguise the blood-red reverse.
Weeks ago, you thought begonia but waited until the delicate pink blooms
lifted out of the fold to name it. You drop to your knees to study the botany
of begonia and wonder about the need to name everything,
to label it, when so much is unknowable—ordinary, steady on one side,
bloody on the other. You still have nightmares about the shooter,
who everyone said was a swell guy until they saw the reverse of him—
the dead woman in the parking lot, the pastor with bullets in his arms.
How can you name the flight that took your legs even as your heart
pleaded go back, find your friends? You confess courage is two-sided,
fragmented, a label only found in the dirt. You kneel in the drifting shade
and try to understand yourself, which means to understand humanity,
which cannot be understood, no matter what name you give its wildest part,
the hard, blunt face of its blooming.
Sandy Coomer is a poet and artist living in Brentwood, TN. Her poetry has been published in numerous journals and anthologies, and she is the author of three poetry chapbooks, including the most recent, Rivers Within Us (Unsolicited Press). A full-length collection, Available Light, will be published in 2019 by Iris Press. Sandy is the founding editor of the online poetry journal Rockvale Review, the curator of the ekphrastic poetry project 20/20 Vision, a Poetic Response to Photography, and the founder and director of Rockvale Writers' Colony, located in College Grove, TN. She is a teacher, a seeker, a dreamer, and an explorer. Her favorite word is "Believe." (www.sandycoomer.com)