Your Father's Flowers

By Peter Halstead

Sidney woke today, incubated
In the city’s washed-out park
By warming’s global spark,
His fading winter traded

For an unseasonable sun
When those passing fixtures,
Time and grief, succumb
To more far-sighted pictures,

Easter Sundays
Where each girl pegs
Her future on the eggs
Her father Fabergés:

Soil’s impossible bouquets
Risen to fluorescent glory,
The reappearing understory
Of inconceivable soufflés.

Almhof Schneider, Lech
March 7th, 2006

March 16th, 2006

Tippet Alley
January 30th, 2008



Cathy and I had just been walking in the park, where the spring flowers were bursting out of the ground. It was Cathy’s birthday.

Cathy’s father, Sidney, had died two months before, and we were thinking of him. Seeing the colorful flowers blooming out of the grey soil in the park seemed to us like Sidney was coming back to earth with the spring. Certainly his gifts were all around us, as they still are.

Sidney’s favorite restaurant was a cute small old-fashioned place where all the dishes were served as soufflés, where Cathy and I used to go also. The restaurant still exists. And of course, a soufflé rises like flowers out of the ground or like Christ on Easter. So resurrection is the understory mentioned in the poem: the small plants that grow up under larger bushes. The “understory” is also the backstory, the subliminal text of our lives.

And of course, Cathy’s birth always happens on a day when the season is usually beginning to bloom.

The poem says that time and grief are only passing fixtures in a larger, more life-affirming universe of regrowth and rebirth. It seems impossible that lilacs grow out of dead ground, as Eliot said in “The Wasteland,” but each spring they do. That spring, it seemed especially relevant to us.