April is National Poetry Writing Month, and I figured that it might be the right time to revive my blog and start the Behind the Verse series again. This poem Lola’s Garden, was recently published by The Mark Literary Review for their April 2021 issue. I was ecstatic that it got accepted since it was my first publication for the year.
But more than that, Lola’s Garden holds a very special place in my heart because this piece was about my late lola (grandmother). The past year has been really hard for our family because we have keenly felt her missing presence during the pandemic. While my mom and my aunts got busy at home taking care of their own house plants, I remembered my lola’s garden.
Mind you, I am not a plantita at all. In fact, I’ve never tended a garden before, and I’m the last person who will ever have a green thumb in our family. So while my mom tended to her growing succulents and dish gardens, I remembered my lola’s poinsettia. The poinsettia plant is widely known for its bright red and green foliage, and it is typically associated with Christmas floral displays.
Growing a poinsettia shrub in a humid tropical country like the Philippines wasn’t easy but my lola tended to her poinsettias with love and care all throughout the year. And when Christmas rolls around the corner, she would decorate her poinsettias like her very own special Christmas tree. She would buy colorful tinsels and make handmade flowers from twines as decorations.
I remembered one particular year when all her poinsettia plants died. I was just a young kid then, maybe around 8 or 9 years old. Even at that age, I harbored no particular interest in plants, but I remembered visiting my lola’s garden that time because I saw how that dead plant made her so sad. She said that Christmas wouldn’t be the same without her poinsettias.
After my lola died, no one could have the tenacity to grow poinsettias in our family anymore. At least, no one even tried to, as far as I know. Similar to what she said all those years ago, Christmases had not been the same ever since my lola died, just like her poinsettias.
So here it is, Lola’s Garden, a heartfelt poem dedicated to my beloved grandmother, whom I still miss every single day.