The Magnolia Girl

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

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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