MONO NO AWARE
Japanese term for the awareness of impermanence, a transient wistfulness as well as a
deeper, gentle sadness about this state being the reality of life
After the betrayal, she bought herself
flowers, but only the ones on clearance—
bunches in clear cellophane rotting in buckets
hidden but discoverable
by those who knew where to look
in the grocery store’s floral department.
Every time she imagined the other women,
she bought bunches of mums
shedding purple tear-shaped petals when jostled,
wilted roses, rainbow-hued buds too open and bruised,
or limp poms, heads downcast with all they’d seen.
Pretty soon, each room had its own bargain bouquet
pieced together with blooms on their way out—
just enough beauty left in them
to prove that, for a moment,
something beautiful had existed
even if her dream couldn't possibly last.
Blind-broken, Texas sun already hot,
my father'd stand in my doorway, stained cap
in hand, a sweaty alarm clock set on
telling me how half the day's gone by nine.
Smelling of cut grass or manure, he loved
telling me, no matter how old I was,
how I never got up early enough.
He knew, out of necessity, the day's
potential wakes before the light begins.
Now, as I leave in the quiet dark to beat
rush hour, my sons sleep just as ignorant
as I was. What other wisdom of his
will I find as the years without him
accumulate one sunrise at a time?
Courtney O'Banion Smith writes, teaches, and parents in Houston, Texas. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Texas State University-San Marcos a long time ago. Her work has appeared in several publications including Relief, Syntax and Salt, and Barren Magazine. Find her in the Ether at www.cobanionsmith.com or @cobanionsmith.