Memento Mori, Memento Vivere by Mary Rohrer-Dann

Memento Mori, Memento Vivere
           (for Alice Fitch)

Too few days of thick star-bursts
of blush and cream. Then, rain.

The magnolia blossoms plummet
fast as my friend, gone

in a single hard-to-believe week.
Just yesterday, I thought,

I must ask Alice, “Come
look at my magnolia,”

its pink glory like tambourines
shivering fragrance across the lawn.

Hard to believe her voice won’t
exult over my tree, a poem, a painting,

goblet of wine, wedge of cheddar,
rap of a returning woodpecker,

that we cut the daffodils lavishing
her front walk with white, butter,

rainslicker yellow for bud vases
on tables the day we celebrated her.

Hard to believe her house, shuttered
now almost two months, isn’t Alice

just sleeping in on a Saturday, resting
from 3-days-a-week dialysis but planning

our Sunday afternoon jaunt to the greenhouse
where we’ll lust over snapdragons sweet peas

petunias verbena scented geraniums.
All we’ll buy once frost warnings are past

and my magnolia opens its dark emerald
leaves to her absence, to summer.


Mary Rohrer-Dann is author of Accidents of Being: Poems from a Philadelphia Neighborhood (Kelsay Books, 2023); Taking the Long Way Home (Kelsay, 2021); and La Scaffetta: Poems from the Foundling Drawer (Tempest). Her work also appears in Flash Boulevard, Clackamas Review, Five South, Slant, Third Wednesday, Indiana Review, Comstock Review, Orca, Stone Poetry Quarterly & elsewhere. A “graduated” educator, she paints, hikes, and works with several nonprofits in central PA. She is the totally enraptured grandmama of Elyse Amalie.

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