Peace Lilies


by Cathy Smith Bowers

I collect them now, it seems. Like
sea-shells or old
thimbles. One for
Father. One for 

Mother. Two for my sweet brothers.
Odd how little
they require of
me. Unlike the 

ones they were sent in memory
of. No sudden
shrilling of the
phone. No harried 

midnight flights. Only a little
water now and
then. Scant food and
light. See how I’ve 

brought them all together here in
this shaded space
beyond the stairs.
Even when they 

thirst, they summon me with nothing
more than a soft,
indifferent furl-
ing of their leaves. 


About the Author:

Cathy Smith Bowers is a native of South Carolina. She was a winner of the 1990 General Electric Award for Younger Writers and a South Carolina Poetry Fellowship. Her poems have appeared widely in publications such as The Altantic Monthly, The Georgia Review, Poetry, Shenandoah, The Southern Poetry Review, The Southern Review, Kenyon Review, and many others.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2004 by Cathy Smith Bowers, whose most recent book of poetry is The Candle I Hold Up to See You, Iris Press, 2009. Poem reprinted from A Book of Minutes, Iris Press, 2004, by permission of Cathy Smith Bowers and the publisher.