Guilt-Lilacs

bouquet

 

The guilt-lilacs were a present at the door.

I put them in a Roman vase on the window

where everyone could see what you did

or at least think I’ve lived with a gentleman.

Perhaps you’d propose on the patio, they said,

through a mouthful of crackling champagne.

Pop questions like a cork. The clocks swelter,

wipe their glass eye with flowerless hands.

I ask them: why lilacs?

They smell of her.

Now they die in a wastepaper basket

as I go about my business, pack our belongings

in trunks already too full, write my name

on the labels. A bee zips in through the window

like an awkward word,

clings to carnation skeletons.

But the lilacs are terribly calm. They go so well

on the reeking bedside

with the poison-lilies, barbed roses—

awkward honeysuckle clambering

the walls as though heaving away

on flowery limbs. The botanic man—

petalled head tied to a stake.

Guilt-lilacs bruise in the sun.

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