Iris plants covered in tarps and snow
By Laura K. Deal


On this cold, wet, snowy Mother’s Day,
my daughters study for their final exams,
taking their education seriously,
with the background awareness
that not everyone on the planet
shares this privilege. I hold them
in gratitude and pride, for the ways they’ve
blossomed because of, and despite,
my quirks and foibles as a human mom.

Next to this joy in my heart, the grievous shadow
of hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls stolen
from their school to be kept and sold into slavery,
their mothers shocked and grieving.
Sweet innocence, taken by the devil,
girls targeted because of their desire
to learn, to grow their own power in the world
through thought and education.

Heartbroken mothers, terrified daughters,
and all I can do is add my voice
to the demand that someone save them.
My outrage is necessary, but never enough.
What else can I do from my side of the world?

I carry those girls and their families
in my praising, grieving heart as I
venture out into wet spring snow
to shake the first few inches
from the tarps covering the spring garden,
the ones my husband and I draped
over tomato cages and secured with clothespins,
to protect the tender buds and slender stalks
of my iris and peonies, because
the weight of Gaia’s weeping could easily break them,
and the freeze might nip their potential beauty
in the bud.

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