Regarding Hollyhocks
Joannie Stangeland

Regarding Hollyhocks

For they are thinly veined
and fluted lightly, like shallow bells

or champagne coupes, careful
not to slosh or lean too far.

For they stand the way a flock
of young girls might fidget

at a dance. For they sway
on the scraggiest ribbon of rocky dirt.

For they tower over a summer
gone seed-knuckled, knobby-spined.

For they bring my grandmother back,
these last pastel flowers

like the slender sentries flanking
her garage. It was my job

to cut the spent stalks down.
For a task done from love

is not a chore but the chance
to please her, to be of use.

Now I let my own plants go,
for it is my lazy streak, or call it

nostalgia. For the hollyhocks
look like they have something

to tell me, something
they've been saying every year.

Joannie Stangeland

is the author of several collections, most recently The Scene You See (Ravenna Press). Her poems have appeared in the Worcester Review, Meridian, Pedestal Magazine, Whale Road Review, The MacGuffin, and other journals. She holds an MFA from the Rainier Writing Workshop.