Flowers at a Funeral

by Sara Letourneau

I don’t want to think about the flowers.
They burn my eyes, blazing like suns
against the white parish walls
and the casket’s dark polished wood.

Acknowledging them feels like whispering
profanities in this crowded holy room where
the man lying in repose is my best friend’s father.
So I do my best to look elsewhere—

at my friend, whose face I cannot see as she sits
in the front row, a slight wilt to her spine;
at the pastor standing at the pulpit, one arm outstretched
as he speaks of death and the flowering cherry trees outside;

at the other mourners lining the rows ahead of me,
arranged almost as neatly as transplants in a garden—
then at my hands, the knuckles dry and cracked
from the change in seasons, as I fumble for

thoughts that are fitting for a funeral,
such as how the man I’m honoring once invited
his daughter and me to his backyard swimming pool;
and why an only child of divorced parents

must lose her father before her thirtieth birthday;
and how Death has been insatiable this week,
disguising himself as news anchors to tell me the names
of those he took through shootings, fires, old age;

and whether it’s time to ask my mother and father
about their will and their power of attorney;
and how the sky this morning
is as blue as that hydrangea bouquet—

See? Somehow grief fails to blind me
to the lilies as orange as monarch wings,
the roses flushing amber and pink,
and the crepuscular rays of daffodils.

Their full blooms are faces, beatific and wise;
their stems and leaves like bodies and arms
thrown open, and completely, to the world.
They shouldn’t be so thriving

on this wind-bitten April day,
yet perhaps I should give thanks that they are.

* Writing Prompt: Think of an event or period in your life when you experienced grief, sadness, anger, guilt, or a similar emotion. Did you find or experience anything during that event or time that evoked in you an opposite emotion such as happiness, hope, or awe? If so, what? How did the back-and-forth pull between the contrasting emotions affect or influence you?

Orange Lilies

by Sarah Sutro

orange lilies
bloom south
and north of the
building.
in great flocks
their tiger faces
open to light –
and inside
on the table,
residing in
a clear vase,
a shout-out
to summer,
a riotous
gesture of
life and love

how can we
neglect the
lilies, when
talking about
hope?

here, in
the dark
of night,
they are
open,
and singing

* Writing Prompt: Write a poem from the perspective of a part of nature. What does it look, feel and smell like? What would it communicate if it had a voice? Write a poem engaging with that description and that thought.


Sara Letourneau

Sara Letourneau is a poet, freelance editor, writing coach, and workshop instructor who lives in suburban Massachusetts. Her poetry has received first place in the Blue Institute’s 2020 Words on Water Contest and appeared in Mass Poetry’s Poem of the Moment, Aromatica Poetica, Muddy River Poetry River, The Avocet, Constellations, Boston Area Small Press and Poetry Scene, Soul-Lit, Amethyst Review, The Aurorean, Golden Walkman Magazine, The Bookends Review, and Canary, among others. Her manuscript for her first full-length poetry collection is currently on submission. You can find her on Twitter @Sara_HeartStory and Instagram @sara_heartofthestory, or visit her at https://heartofthestoryeditorial.com or https://saraletourneauwriter.com.


Sarah Sutro

Sarah Sutro, a writer and painter, has poetry in numerous publications, including International Poetry Review, Amsterdam Quarterly, Panorama, Journal of the Intelligent Traveler, Rockhurst Review, Greylock Independent, The Big Chili, and the anthologies Improv and From the Finger Lakes. Author of the poetry chapbook Études (Finishing Line Press), she has also written a book of essays, COLORS: Passages through Art, Asia and Nature (Blue Asia Press). She was a finalist for the Robert Frost Award, a Mass. Cultural Council Poetry Grant, and won fellowships at MacDowell Colony, Millay Colony, Ossabaw Island Foundation, Blue Mountain Center, and the American Academy in Rome. She has written articles and reviews for American Arts Quarterly and Berkshire Fine Arts. Her work expresses the interface of nature and culture, as she explores the light and growth in gardens and wild areas where she now lives in the Berkshires.