In Your Bougainvillea Dream
after Richard Hugo
You are talking to a woman named Mona
who is pointing to a glowing baby Jesus
lying in a manger on her lawn.
In life, Mona is unemployed and drinks
boxed red wine until her lips are purple bruises.
In your dream, she plays a white piano
at a department store that sells candy orange slices
and lifejackets. In life, she sent you lonely cds,
stood in your kitchen while you cried.
Your husband comes in the door.
He is not dead anymore. Mona tries to leave,
but she cannot get by your husband
who is holding a large bougainvillea in a pot.
He tells her it is tropical. She pushes
past the plant. Fuschia petals fall to the floor.
You and your husband watch her from the window.
You tell him he doesn’t have to wear flannel
anymore, ask about his heart, tell him
you are a weaver now, show him your shawl, explain
that beginners start with black. His hand
is on his chest. You tell him his heart is gone,
donated with his hammer and shovels.
He falls to the floor. The bougainvillea
topples. Broken pecan shells scatter
across the floor. Christmas lights dangle from the ceiling.
He is dead again, and you cannot understand
why he keeps coming back with things in his hands.
Marissa McNamara teaches English composition and creative writing at Georgia State University and in Georgia prisons. She is also a contributing poetry editor for The Chattahoochee Review. Her work has appeared in several publications including the anthologies On Our Own and My Body My Words and the journals RATTLE, Assisi, Melancholy Hyperbole, StorySouth, Future Cycle, The Cortland Review, and Amsterdam Quarterly.