Deborah Elaine Richard
When she died, I thought her flowers would die with her
For I was never the one with a green thumb.
Donning floral work gloves, brushing aside dead leaves
And old pine straw from the year before,
She loved digging in the dirt, cleaning out the flower bed,
Hauling rich soil in the bright red wheelbarrow,
Planting new seeds and bulbs,
Watching life spring forth from the earth.
The Shasta Daisies, white with a yellow center,
Perhaps the tallest ever this year,
Their sprightly heads tossing in the breeze;
The royal purple Iris, growing in clusters,
Near the side of the house;
The English Rose, courtly - befitting a Princess,
Passed down through generations;
The fuchsia Hibiscus, with saucer-size blooms
And multicolored Lantana are well on their way.
Though her body lies still beneath the earth,
Her spirit lives on, perpetual, never-ending,
Like the perennials whose roots remain alive,
Just waiting for the earth to burst forth
and beauty returns.
(Dr. Clarence Maze, Jr.,
Former President of Richard Bland College
of the College of William & Mary)
Your footsteps echo in the halls.
Pipe smoke wafts in from your study.
Students who traveled abroad with you and the first lady
undoubtedly cherish those memories.
Your niece and nephew fondly recall a colorfully
crafted purse and drum you brought them from Nigeria.
As a boy of West Virginia, you had an ingenious way of
getting things done, as in crafting your own sleds
for gliding over snow-capped hills.
You taught your sister – my mother – to play the piano
in the little white country church where your family attended.
You hungered for an education and had the
tenacity to fulfill those dreams.
You instilled in your students
the assurance that their goals could also be achieved.
Your beautifully landscaped Water Garden with its Japanese-style
bridges, flowers, fountains, and waterfalls continues to delight
college students and the community.
Your contributions to the college,
as well as to your family and friends, were many.
Your ashes were buried;
Yet, your memory lives on.
Today we remember, and sigh.
Deborah Elaine Richard is a member of South Carolina Writers’ Workshop and West Virginia Writers, Inc. She is the recipient of an Honorable Mention in the 2010 Joyful! Poetry Contest and her poems have appeared in The Shine Journal, The Storyteller, WestWard Quarterly, Holler (Princeton Poetry Project), Two-Lane Livin’ Magazine, and Alderson-Broaddus College’s Grab-a-Nickel. Her chapbook, Resiliency, was published in November 2012 by Finishing Line Press of Georgetown, Kentucky as part of their celebrated New Women’s Voices Series. She has recently completed a memoir about growing up in Appalachia. Ms. Richard is currently a secretary in hospital administration. Her web address is www.debbierichard.com.("In Memoriam" was written in memory of my uncle, Dr. Clarence Maze Jr., former president of Richard Bland College of the College of William & Mary. His widow, Marlene Dotson Maze, former "first lady" of Richard Bland College, still resides in Virginia and his sons, Professor John Maze is at the University of Florida and Tom Maze resides in North Carolina.)