Impossible Flower


“Plant one of these at home to remember me by
at Christmas when it blooms.” We don’t contradict
our friend from sunny Rimini, for whom the bloomless
Minnesota winter is pure theory,
something to avoid in her poems, if she wrote poems,
if she were a poet and not a surgeon, one
who takes a pancreas or kidney from the newly dead
and plants it in a warmer climate. Surgeons,
like poets, brook no ideas but in things.

I’m one to talk—most colors are just words
for me now. I‘ve memorized my shirts like flash-cards
of irregular verbs, identifying each
by its buttons (prim little and big butch buttons,
lens-shaped or ridged like tiny wagon wheels).
Vague concepts, pretty sounds: umber and periwinkle,
carmine and taupe, cerulean but not fuchsia,
fuchsia is still a thing, an Irish hedge
blooming implausibly in a dark wet November,
almost blocking the one-lane road. I want
to profit from my abstract palette, shake off
the old color words. It was a furbelow sky.
Do they have these shoes in galore or endocrine?
When he saw at the end of the interview that his fly
was open, his face turned from knack to urology…

no, wait, urology is a color already—
as you know, urologists all wear purple socks.

Let’s say instead, from knack to jihad.
This should level the playing field, unless
you’re secretly putting real colors in place
of my unreal ones, as I suspect your minds
cannot help doing. Maybe you also think
I’m avoiding the main issue, and I must confess
what I’d really like to know, as I sit here
in the abstract dark, is why it’s suddenly so cold,
and why you’re all wearing vacuum suits
and what you’ve done with the crew.

Roy White

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