Reading My Valentine’s Poem to Frank X. Gaspar
In the poem, I stand behind the counter,
stripping leaves and thorns from long-stemmed roses
flown from Ecuador, tossing them into a pile at my feet.
Leaving only the blooms: the ruffled pink
of “Precious Moments,” the dusky “ Black Magic,”
“Wanted,” its crisp, scalloped edge. I don’t care, he says to me
about the men who come to buy the flowers.
What I want to know is what is this woman doing
to the sex organs of these plants?
I am thirty-two, and in love, again, this time
with a man whose name rolls off my tongue
like water. I’m afraid of hope.
A husband gone, a lover buried in the waves.
And what about the men
who buy the dark petals that say
this is how I want to open you. This flower
reminds me of your flower.
I wrap bouquet after bouquet in bright tissue,
give them to boys in frayed jeans,
to businessmen talking on their cell phones,
who walk away, bearing the weight
of these intricate ambassadors, these small failures,
bred, not for fragrance, but their ability to endure.
There are pinpricks of blood
along the flesh of my palm.
There is so much we cannot say.
--American Poetry Review, Vol. 44/NO. 3
The Watch: American Poetry Review
Dust: American Poetry Review
Pigeons: The New York Times
The God of Numbers: The Sun
Fictional Characters: The Sun and read by Garrison Keillor
Names:The Writer's Almanac, read by Garrison Keillor
The Lord God Bird: Rattle
Insha'Allah: American Life in Poetry
Bio: The Poetry Foundation