Flowers Grow Wild


story poems by

Dick Holmes

With illustrations by

Dale Draeger

~154 pages, $12 cover price

ISBN: 978-1-59948-466-8

Released: November 2013



About the Author

Dick Holmes lives and writes in the Mill Creek area near
Columbia, South Carolina. He sees writing as both an artistic
and a spiritual endeavor, a meditative way to explore the
interconnectedness of experience. He is also the author of
another book of poems published by Pure Heart Press, Recipes
for Gratitude. He can be contacted at

About the Illustrator

Besides her work on canvas, Dale Draeger’s art has taken her
into peoples’ homes and offices to create murals, trompe
l’oeil, and ceiling and wall designs. She has painted many
portraits and commissioned paintings. She is currently
represented by three fine galleries: the Freed Gallery in
Lincoln City on the Oregon Coast, Allesandro’s Gallery in
Salem, Oregon, and Amy Lauren’s Gallery on the island of
Kauai. Dale’s work places the viewer in the heart of Nature.
Her website is at, and she can be
contacted at

One full moon night, several friends

meet and take turns sharing stories.

The last to tell a story that night is

Aaliyah, a charismatic poet who completes

her turn with the suggestion that

“[we] meet again like this on full moon nights,

listen to the stories of our hearts,

and let the waves of their beauty and truth

wash into each other as the tide ebbs and flows.”


Ember, her given name—that’s about all she
knew of her origin. That and the fact that
as a newborn infant she’d been found in a Christmas
manger with the infant Jesus. Eileen,
one of the administrators at St. Francis Orphanage,
had told her the story.

Early one morning, when the pastor at Sacred Heart Church
stepped into the sanctuary to prepare the altar
for daily mass, he heard a sound coming from
the direction of the nativity scene. He walked over
to check it out, and as he neared the stable
he heard something stirring in the manger.

He must have been a little shocked to find
a second infant lying there in the straw-filled crib,
this one a living, breathing, kicking one.

She was wrapped in a child’s hooded sweatshirt
and a frayed old blanket. Pinned to the blanket was
a note that read:
“Her Nam Ember
Think you fer
Tak kar uv her
I got a go now
Bliss you”

The letters in the note looked as if they’d been
written by a child or by an adult whose writing practice
during childhood had ended shortly after it had begun.

And that was it. Ember didn’t even know for sure
who had placed her in the manger. Her mother,
presumably. A mother whose circumstances had apparently
led her to the decision that she had to “go now,”
without the baby she’d given birth to. But a mother who
cared enough to give her baby a name and leave her in
a warm place where she’d soon be found and taken
good care of.

But how had her mother come to choose such an
uncommon name as Ember for her baby? What had
that name meant to her?

Judging by the spelling in her note, Ember thought,
my mother may have intended to name me Amber.
Ember considered that possibility for a moment.
An illustration she’d seen in one of her school texts
came to mind: an image of a fly whose life was
arrested in a piece of amber.

No, she thought, I am not Amber. My mother gave me
the name Ember, so Ember I am.

But what image had come to her mother’s mind
when the name Ember had arisen from her heart
and passed through her throat and lips
into the cold December air? Was it the fading ember
of a dying fire she was seeing or the glowing ember
of a healthy fire radiating a colorful contentment?

With that thought, Ember arrived at a turning point.
Did her mother’s image behind her name
actually matter? “What’s in a name?” she’d read
Shakespeare’s Juliet declare in English class that day.
Not much, Juliet seemed to be saying.
“That which we call a rose/By any other name
would smell as sweet.” In Juliet’s context,
that take on the significance of a name made sense,
but, in her own context, Ember was coming to
a different view. What’s in a name? she asked
the deepest, most open aspect of herself.
Emptiness, yes, but also plenty of possibility, she
decided with conviction, and I’m the one who
fills my name with what’s in it.


One story that hasn’t been told yet
is the one of how our storytelling night began.
The outer details of the story might be
easy enough for some of us to recall, but
the atmosphere, the layers of it that
spontaneously unfolded among us,
the sense of enticement that by the end of that
first night would lead us to agree to keep meeting
every full moon night—those qualities of the story
might not be so easy to recount.

Her name was Aaliyah. She was
the last one to tell a story that night, and it was
during her story that I felt the enticement
crystallize, in myself and in all of you, as well.
Your rapt faces reflected
what I saw in my heart as I listened
more to her enchanting way of unveiling the details
than to the details themselves. Listening to her
became the colors and textures of a moonlit stream
meandering through an abstract painting
anticipating the imminent plunge of a waterfall.

At the core of the allure was the feeling of
an ever-opening possibility, revealing itself
as both end and means in storytelling.
Somehow, Aaliyah’s story seemed to untell itself
in the telling. Every elusive aspect
of its setting, characters, plot, etcetera,
has vanished from my memory. All the
words have, too, except her last, spell-breaking ones,
which may or may not have been part of the story:
“So, let’s meet again like this on full moon nights,
listen to the stories of our hearts,
and let the waves of their beauty and truth
wash into each other as the tide ebbs and flows.”

It’s remarkable, really, that before tonight
none of us has wondered aloud about Aaliyah.
After all, she was the one who
proposed we keep meeting, and yet she’s
the only one of us who attended only that first night.

So. I’ve brought her up now and I’m asking:
Does anyone know what became of Aaliyah?


Life shoots all kinds of bullets.
I get up and change the channel
(remote control hasn’t been
invented yet, or if it has
I don’t know about it
because I’ve been either too busy
or too lazy to keep up).
Where’s it all going, I wonder,
and immediately an inner voice replies,
“You know very well where.”
The sound of those last two words, with the
alliteration of their initial /w/ and their
final /l/ and /r/ rolls, gusts through
my air-signed head like a cool fall breeze.
“Your dad will be picking you up
after school,” Mom says, hugging me
goodbye outside the building.
“Enjoy your studies.”
Inside, what we want to be when we
grow up is first on the agenda.
“I want to be a soap opera,”
says the kid who raises her hand first.
“I want to be a game show,”
pipes up the next.
“I want to be a reality show, like Survivor,”
says another.
“I . . . I . . . want . . .” (you can tell that
this kid is still considering all the
possibilities as he constructs
his sentence) “. . . I want to be . . .
a boxing match.” The teacher is
cheerful and accommodating despite the
unexpected turn her lesson plan has taken,
but behind the smile, she looks utterly
bewildered, as though she has just taken
a stiff left hook to the liver
or bitten one too many bullets.

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