Saturday, November 30, 2013


In the shop he hems and haws,
Each bud an act of penance.
The sweet young girl, she's offered
To gather a most felicitous bunch,
But how can he allow it? (When 
Sweet young girls as good as
Propelled him into this store,
At closing time on a chilly Friday.)
So choose he does, and the result
Is homely without a hint of quaint.

At home his wife jams the offering
In a cheap glass jug. She refrains
From arranging, hiding a rogue 
Or wilted bloom behind a good one,
As she would tuck her daughter's
Flyaway hair behind one seashell ear.
Dinner is silent, but for the chewing.
Shuddering, she pictures all the jaws
Clenching and yawing, caught out
In their seamy act of mastication.

The flowers betray nothing more than
Their smell, the way they flirt with bees.
He thinks of nature: picnics and the like.
The child with the seashell ear squirms
To be released into fresher air, as the 
Blooms would, surely, if they could.
But the wife, she has caught the scent
Of something dying, cloyingly sweet
Like the perfume her Nana wore well
Into her nineties. They sprayed it on her
In her casket, even; it wet the satin lining
But refused absorption by her paper-skin.

In the bin the flowers go, with the gristly
Bits of roast and too-tough celery.
It's so much more honest, she thinks
As she tosses them in, They're already
Dead, were so even as he begged them
To conspire in this warm meal served 
With a full, forgiving kind of silence.

Not one in this family seeing the poor flowers
As anything but signifiers of whatever else.
So let's discuss the flowers on the table, at last.
The flowers that keep straining toward the past:
Halcyon days, when instinct's pull forbade deceit.

1 comment:

alejna said...

I loved this. You reveal so many layers under the superficial act of giving flowers. I had to read it several times through.