Poetry: Mexican Sunflowers

Grace E. Gray (1981) is a professional writer and editor, with publications that include scholarly articles on developmental neuroscience, feature writing, medical writing, nature writing, and interviews. She has been writing poetry as long as she can remember. Her only published poem, included here, is “Mexican Sunflowers,” which was published in Poet Lore, 2005.

Mexican Sunflowers
My daughter plays in my mother’s shadow,
Hiding in the unpredictable shade.
She stirs up the murky water,
Groping after goldfish and water-lily roots.

Flanking the fountain
Huge planters filled with exotic and half-wilted plants
Run the length of the museum courtyard.
My sister and I wander around them, avoiding my mother,
Faking interest in the limp Tithonia and elephants’ ears.
Oppressed by the sun,
Too much tourism, and each other.

My mother—Obstinate sunflower–
Disgusted with us and the whole inadequate planet
Turns her arrogant face
Directly into the light.
Looking back I have to wonder how my daughter
Who wasn’t even born at the time
Managed to get loose in that tired courtyard.
In my mind she flings up her wet hands–
The drops shoot from her fingers
Flying beyond my mother’s shadow to flare briefly in the sunlight.

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