free verse

This is another poem inspired by a bizarre experience in Barcelona.  Anna and I saw one afternoon a fresh bouquet of flowers sticking out of a recycling bin on the side of the street.  Like the parrot with the bell around its neck that prompted my last poem, there was no apparent reason for this strange sight.  A little Spanish man walked up to us to discard his newspaper as we were staring at the recycling bin .  He said something in Spanish that I didn’t understand, but he was obviously chuckling at the flowers that had been thrown away.  Before continuing on, Anna and I both took an iris out of the bouquet, but left the rest to perplex any other people that might happen by.  This poem is one of many possible explanations for why someone would buy flowers just to leave them in the trash.

For her

The lilies and the irises
told themselves that they were beautiful
as the florist wrapped them in tissue paper
and crinkly clear plastic
and sent them on their way.
They told themselves they were worth
more than the pampered post-card perfect
roses with their ruby petals
and the orchids blushing in their hot houses,
more than the coins the man handed over,
cringing as he crushed their stems,
gripping them with a sigh.

The lilies and the irises
like to travel together,
their faces watching the sidewalk
rush beneath them,
the man’s shoes avoiding the cracks
with every quick and quiet step.
They liked the colors of the metro,
the magenta of the main line,
the smell of bodies in their buds
as they are pressed to the glass
and the graffiti-smeared seats.
They liked the dogs that licked their leaves
and nipped their petals falling to the floor.

The lilies and the irises
waited for an answer.
The doorbell rang again;
the button glistened in the streaming
sunlight of the summer afternoon,
sweat left there by the man’s dripping fingertip,
the flowers’ plastic rustling in the windless day
from the quivering in his wrists
and the shaking in his thighs.
They heard his knuckles knock,
firm and loud, a speck of yellow paint
falling from the doorframe to the ground
and resting on the concrete like a piece of daytime
for her to find later in the night.
She moved behind the window shades.
They saw her swaying silhouette.
Unmoving, they heard his now familiar sigh.

The lilies and the irises
could smell old newsprint
and empty aging beer bottles.
They liked the green of the recycling bin.
They liked the sound of the man’s shoes
stepping down the street,
the footsteps floating up
and growing big between
the buildings of the tiny back street,
then dying off with his retreat.
They liked how he had tipped up their faces
and carefully arranged their stems
in the bin’s small opening
so that they could see her balcony
and the clouds passing across the sun.


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