Fairy Great Aunties

Vogue Robinson

Sleeping Beauty had three fairy godmothers

Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather

They gave her the gifts of beauty, song, and slumber

When I was born, God gave me three roses instead

Great Aunties - Dorothy, Lily, and Juanita

Women uprooted and forced to blend

and thrive in unfamiliar California soil

I thought they were mine to keep


But they were just roses

Each one an apology

for my mistake of a mother


A woman whose heartbeat pounded

as loud as her fists

Anger, always sizzling

in a pot of overcooked pasta

Dependence in her medicine cabinet

Addiction in her diet

Fire in her throat

Hands made of granite

She lacked a green thumb

But my Great Aunties were sown

by a Kansas farmer and they grew

Aunt Lily grew a 50-year marriage with her husband, Pastor Coles

They harvested a church family, but never a sapling of their own

When Aunt Lily died

Church of God in Christ in Los Angeles

was filled to brim with blue roses

mourning the loss of sweet Sister Lily

volunteer, pastor’s wife, piano teacher --

the woman who stopped going to dialysis

after her husband passed

For almost ten years, my sister kept a rose

from that funeral in her bedroom


I remember Aunt Lily’s gift of song

slender fingers too arthritic to teach me the piano

But she taught me love has a lifespan immeasurable


Aunt Dorothy’s front yard had ants crawling

in wild honeysuckle buds

She found herself a hand-me-down son

to help her plant citrus trees whose pollen

danced together to create new nectar


When Aunt Dorothy died

I watched my Gramma bawl

reach into the open casket,

grab her arm and screech,

“Dorothy, I tried to call you, I tried to call you!”


I remember Aunt Dorothy’s gift of gardening

she taught me that love can blossom anywhere


Aunt Juanita, the youngest, planted an entire garden

of sons and daughters

She grew our strongest dandelions


Two weeks after Aunt Juanita died

I found a dead ladybug

I buried her in soft soil

under a California pepper tree

said a prayer and let my last Aunt go


I remember Aunt Juanita’s gift of patience

she taught me how love is full of forgiveness


These women taught me more about death

than the living ever could

About how your body becomes carcass

cousins become vultures

Your belongings

become the cause

of a civil war of paperwork, insults, and pain


I remember their deaths and funerals

better than their lives

I am trying to stop wishing for fairy great aunties

I know these women weren’t myths, they lived

like uprooted plants

I watched them wither and wilt over time


It’s fitting, I found a husband

who doesn’t believe in buying flowers

When I decided to buy myself a rose

I paid a woman to sew a string of memories

into my forearm with an electric needle

so my Great Aunties are remembered

as beautiful, brilliant, alive

even after...

Vogue Robinson recently became Clark County’s second-ever poet laureate. With a Bachelor of Arts in English from San Diego State University, she has dedicated herself to expression. She spends her spare time with family and as Executive Director of Poetry Promise, Inc. Vogue will be participating in the Nevada Humanities Literary Crawl on Saturday, September 15 in Reno, as well as the Las Vegas Book Festival held on October 20,2018.


Thank you for visiting Double Down, the Nevada Humanities blog.

Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog author and do not represent those of Nevada Humanities its staff, or any partner or affiliated organization, unless explicitly stated.

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. Omissions, errors, or mistakes are entirely unintentional. Nevada Humanities reserves the right to change, update or remove content on this blog at any time.