In These Soft Trinities

Whenever I see two women
crowned, constellated friends

it is as if three birch trees wept together
in a field by a constant spring.

The third woman isn't there

exactly, but just before them a flame
bursts out, then disappears

in a blurred, electric shining
that lifts my hair like an animal's.

In an aura of charged air I remember
my poor mother turned into royalty,
my sister and me in bobby socks

endlessly, all summer long
calling each other Margaret Rose

and Lillibet, Lillibet, Lillibet,
pretending to be princesses...

Now, swollen into these tall blooms
like paper cutouts in water,

in each new neighborhood garden
always, two women talking

nod their three curly heads together:
with bits of dirt on their foreheads, speckled
iris, flaming poppy

in the backyard dynasties of the multiflora
it is the famous funeral photograph
of the Dowager Queen, Queen Mother, stunned Young Queen,

three stepping stones in marble
that haunt me forever, clear
and mysterious as well water, the weight of it

in a bronze bucket swinging
powerfully from my hand.

As the plumcolored shadow rises,
full as a first child in the orchard,

the lost gardening glove on the path,
the single earring tucked

in an odd corner of the purse and then found

here double themselves, then triple:
in these soft trinities
the lives that begin in us

are born and born again like wings.
Secret as doves scuffling

in the wide envelope of wombs
like loose, comfortable aprons flung

over the heads of friends leaning together
in the hum of earth's plainsong

like a three part round,
like a single voice murmuring
the dream never leaves us, of the self

like a three masted vessel still voyaging:
out of the long matrix of memory,
the royal bulbs in the hold,

the ballast that keeps us upright, loyal
to the dark, deep-bedded throne
of the old country each new soul claims as its own.

by Patricia Goedicke

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