Dakota June

Posted on 31 December 2010

Today is the tenth anniversary of my mother’s death. There’s a lot I could say about my mother or the last decade or even what I wish I could tell the old me from ten years ago. Instead, I’m going to mark this day with a piece of writing.

I wrote the following poem a few months after my mother died, when I was a sophomore in college. I had recently viewed a photograph of a field of sunflowers in South Dakota, which I considered one of the most beautiful, hopeful landscapes I’d ever seen.

When I discovered this poem in some old writing files a few months ago, it shocked me because I barely remembered it. Now, the writer in me wants to include all sorts of disclaimers: I’m not a poet. I’m not posting this because I’m proud of it as a poem. This is more about who I was then, and who my mother was, than the words themselves. But another part of me just appreciates this piece for what it is. Here it is, and I hope you all have a safe and happy new year.


in South Dakota: a field of sunflowers
pointing its seeds toward the sun,
gold-brown tipping toward blue.
This is how I picture her,
covered in flowers and rising to the sky.

Dakota June, Dakota June —
let me come to taste the air.
Let those flowers grow,
clustering each other like wild
for the flat Dakota sky.

Dizzying, how the field will surround us,
how the flowers rise up to stare.
They are a line of gold
smeared and fading into a distance
so bright, so beautiful.

Dakota June, Dakota June —
this is how I picture her:
The brightness. The beauty.
Her body turns young, glittering.
So she promises me: Dakota.

(She must be the sun,
the way the flowers turn to face her.)

6 responses to Dakota June

  • glasseye says:

    Oh Laura. This is such a beautiful remembrance of your mother. And as a poem, a piece of writing, I think it’s lovely. The only thing I’ve ever been able to write about my father was a dark and hopeless essay – but then, he was a complicated man.

    You must miss her so much.

  • Thank you…you always leave the kindest comments.

  • Downith says:

    Hi Laura – your poem has a very lyrical feel to it. I hope yesterday was okay. Happy New Year and thanks for the listing on your blogroll – I’m honoured.

  • amyg says:

    this poem needs no disclaimers. i’m with glasseye, it’s lovely. i’m sorry you’re missing your mom. i have one of these kind of anniversaries too (may 14–for my dad). i can’t remember his birthday for anything, but i know when he left. i really like “gold-brown tipping toward blue” it’s a good line.

  • lisahgolden says:

    This is so beautiful. I’m not close to my mother, but my youngest daughter writes me the most touching letters so I finally get the idea of what it is to adore, to truly adore. At least I hope I get it.

    This poem, especially the last line, really touched something in me.

  • Deb says:

    Oh yes, that last line. It’s a beautiful poem, Laura. Worthy of both your mom and the young woman who just lost her.

    For me, I know the hurt will never go away and I’ll always mark the years, but after the tenth the grief turned to a sort of bittersweetness. I hope that for you.

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