The summer when I was ten,
I knew she was ill, was all.
Several weekends were sleep
overs in Coral Gables with Fern.
Lemons rolled briskly under the palms,
sliced in half; hollow peppermint sticks
for sipping straws. There were
scrapbook tours of a girlhood
grown old far from the catchings
of crawdads in Cedar Rapids ponds.
Coins were baked in a birthday cake.
I learned to help to seal the preserves:
paraffin goes on top of the sweet,
install a seal, turn down the rim.
One weekday I heard my mother
on the phone from another room
"We don't expect her to outlast the summer."
Then I knew—to not ask her
for more than I had overheard.
The next weekend:
"When will you get well?"
"Oh. By the end of summer. I'll
be just fine again."
The only Fern in one boy's life
curled and browned September
2nd. Pour warm wax atop the jar,
emplace a seal, turn tight the rim.