36: the day I learned roses talk

the talking flowers were what threw me.
but first it’s important to know how the wind
traversed my friend’s community garden, who looked
at me like a sudden broken shoe lace
when I told him I would visit with his roses.
some beds faced high, dense hedge greens
and so the roses held still, like those in green
houses after a storm has brought the powerwires
down.  still, in other places of the garden,
where my friend had placed statuary
(I thought about asking after his relationship
to cemeteries but thought better of it),
here Aphrodite, there Apollo (or maybe
they were artistic renderings of his loved
ones made to look like Aphrodite and Apollo
in concrete), the breeze coiled, rose, or split
the air so that the roses bobbed
and swayed, and they looked like they
might be staring back at you, mocking you,
playing games of blink chicken with you,
or, perhaps, looking you up and down,
studying you, which, of course, is madness.

but this day, on this visit, with the memory
of my friend’s strange expression in my stomach,
I entered the garden and found the flowers in conversation,
or I entered a space that was fairly common
and I simply had never noticed, this garden
I’d visited often in summer but had never made
time for, for the voices of the flowers, and on this day
the sounds threw me, because they were bold
sounds, unheard of expressions suddenly
made fluent in my ears.  Both the typically still
roses and the roses who played in the breeze
were all conversing, chattering to one another,
moving in the wind or not moving in the wind.
I could, if I listened, make out what they said:
something about the flowers that visited
and their astounding colors and shapes, shoeforms,
their gaits, and those hats, oh those hats,
how they speak so when we come to observe
their differences, when we come and study
their petal textures, observe the slower
movements of the ones with wrinkled skins
and the ones who grow sudden lights
in boxes they raise or the ones who have other boxes
they make noise into, oh, how we love
to visit them
–and that their favorites
were the buds, the little ones with sad faces,
the little ones that cried when they spilled
the cold fluffs they carry in their stems,
oh, how they wished they could see more
of the buds, not like the one they we’re looking
at now with that wide-open pollen face,
the look he has as if he’s seen or heard
some amazing or frightening thing,
oh, how we would like to scratch him
with our thorns and make him run away
and bring other flowers, the buds, the little
ones who cry and try to touch us
as we reach out to touch them.

yes, how strange I felt then,
entering the space of the talking flowers
and then the breeze rose up, the roses
swarmed, and I ran.

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