Dry Flowers


dry flowers

First published in Fireflies, 2015


I.    God forbid we should speak
the truth for once:

nobody can touch me    
    exactly the right way     or the flowers         
are never wet    never red enough     
    the secret places remain undiscovered     
stay abysmal     or there is a sighing    
in my heart     you hear it    in this poem
which is not for you.     Reader, god forbid
I should speak the truth
        I mean, as much as people can
resist the urge         harmless as it is
to be good    to seem virtuous    to take
what credit we can where we can. So what?
    I wrote it for me    it was
it is just too much to bear this singular feeling
invisible all of the time.
    Remember, if you will,
        I never could speak loudly
enough. As a child they told me talk
up but it just turned me

right down.
    And how do you stand it? The silence
that is apprehending you    
        now having entered my mind
thrashing     with its bad weather,
when you have so many unique thoughts
    of your own    you are complex
with your desires    perceived by you
and deeply. Nobody else
        is as rich as we ourselves feel.
Still, can I tell you something
    true I have never before uttered,
but will today:
    to those who mistake my silence
for stoicism, I have little tradition
in me     I am white without    history        
        enough to disappear
on the wrong coloured Sunday
    the day like wide water without sound.  
    ^ Okay, that I stole. But truthfully
    all of the poems were written before me
each one an admission of guilt
for never knowing how to love enough
    at the right time.
    Lonely houses filled with pairs
and the road reversing        long gone.

II.    Or maybe it was me    
never wanting anything good to happen
to either of us. Maybe it was    so hard to know,    
    all day with that just woken feeling
and your palm against my back.
I’d forgotten how to pleasure you    
or stopped trying    the same story.     
        We can never return to before
saying the wrong thing                            
        becoming unlovable. The flowers
do not grow fleshy once more,
    so do we become the other flowers
shadowboxing         until none are left.
Do we tend the seeds of other selves
    become invisible    to return to visible
to turn to rear-vision mirrors    no faces inside.
Asked to montage    my entirety into moment
try this one gif on a forever-loop     
    I allegorise my life
            a blue ribbon unravels
a blue ribbon ties itself back up.

III.    If ever he is to touch me
through my half sleep        his hands
        join with the faces of men
whose names     I dread to think about.
stripped of safe perimeters    I dream it is raining
but rise to somebody     watering geraniums.
    Every day with this just woken
feeling.        I want to know how to see
the world without inserting
    myself into every sad film or stealing
the eyes of each lonely dilettante    a real girl
playing         a fake girl      playing a real girl
    over and over.      
You are losing hair in your sleep    
    each night    becoming less you    
becoming more fiction
        of an older you.
I am making permanent
    the lines of morning    a face adopts.
30 years ago on a day like this
        I was unborn    I was possible    
raw with my possibilities    and the sighing
in my heart
    enough to flatten something.

IV.     Tell the truth for once
was I your plan?     Tell the truth
was it your desire to marry
        a gentle girl? What kind am I.
Let’s stop denying one another    
    we both have feelings to be taken care of
your backseat need    to be wanted    mine to ignore    
my own aversion to questions    
    trailed by their yapping answers.                     

You know that heart of stone, girl?
It just ain’t your style.

How strange to still be a wife. How awful
        that anyone should care.
Imagine being trapped inland
                the one pond forever.
It had better be the right one.
How would you know.

V.    Today I slipped the satin
perimeters of a dress    
    I had not fitted in years. The sensation
was holy    I will not interrogate it.
    The ugly truth is that     
            I long to be nominal,    
of a suitable weight to be carried     
each night in your arms        a sleeping child is how        
I see myself     in everyone my initials     
    in a scarred mountainside    my body
in every man’s embrace.     Mirroring is a life's work
    living on nothing but fresh air.     Can I tell you
        the truth? When you are gone    
    I exercise my right
        wrist thinking of myself
and strangers, their faces wall-hued. Of course
I want to disappear, are you kidding me
        of course I want to be invisible.
Even the women who knew me best and loved
what they knew still pinched my fat and told me
    love yourself. The only thing that won’t pass
is the desire to return to a dressing room full
of fragrant arrangements    my life
                    starring me.