• The Magnolia Girl

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    (From the collection ‘Cataclysmal: Seventy Wasted Poems’)

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    Courage…Is one white flower in a fire-swept land.”—Helen Frazee-Bower

    He thought that white was fragile.
    He thought he could grab her arm and hold it tight,
    Not in an embrace, but as though she
    Were a pistil bent upon the visits of a guile
    Bumbling bee.

    He experiments with flowers.

    He twists his words to keep her hours
    Late, while on the phone on school nights,
    Three hours straight.

    He calls again, and

    Twists her arm around, this time
    Upon a sky of shabby blue,
    A classroom wall, behind the door,
    Where no one sees her anymore
    At the hour of five, near sunset.

    His hands are on her mouth
    To keep her quiet.
    His lips begin to search her neck, her shoulders.

    He experiments with flowers.

    A bough breaks, falls,
    A branch breaks free, and she
    Disturbs these innocent halls with a murmur
    Of the lost but learned trees,

    Of teachers absent,
    Of the perilous presence
    Of hungry bumblebees.

    He twists the limbs of wallflowers
    And turns them into blooms.

    All magnolias grow in the scented grace
    Of conflagration.

    And there, in the fire and ashes ages later,
    She exhumes him with the confidence
    Of a blood-red rose.

    He plucks out petals every hour.

    There’s always a reason to play with blooms
    Like those inside his cell,
    His mirror of white-walled rooms.

    He experiments with flowers.

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