Queen Anne’s Lace

To my mother, Elizabeth Worthington Shelly


A coarse scatter of gravelly buds

with a bare wire undercarriage,

a stem like baling twine,

and the aroma of last night’s dowsed fire.


No silky petals here:

you look like the doilies old ladies lay

on the heads and arms of chairs

to soak up sweat and body oil.


How cruel, they named you for a queen

when you were always a working class flower,

a Depression bloom.

There was never any luxury for you:

nobody took you into their garden

to cultivate or to coax.

You grew up in worn out fields,

in ditches along the sides of roads,

nurtured on rocks and exhaust fumes.


And that one purple dot in your center?

The one legend says is lacemaker’s blood?

That’s yours: shed along with your last tear

before you learned never to cry again

no matter how much it hurt.

Steve Shelly lives in Devon, Pa. and has worked for many years as a psychotherapist. His poetry has appeared in a variety of publications including The Atlanta Review and Philadelphia Stories. He works as a Volunteer Guide at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.