At the Flower Market

by Devon Balwit

To get there, I ride the slipstream of eighteen-wheelers,
past the railyard and the docks to where knowing resides

not just in the head but in the fingertips stripping dead blooms,
dead leaves, pressing soil to the knuckle to gauge how deep

a drink, how dry a drought, how long since stems rooted in dirt.
Here beauty bides its time, sunflowers bundled and netted

in the cold room, geraniums, roses, and ranunculus pressed,
like with like, while, elsewhere, beneath warming lamps,

the lush mouths of dancing ladies and cymbidiums await occasion.
The bit players texture pallets, fern, bells of Ireland, curly willow,

holding still as trained eyes picture them lifting prima donnas
on a future stage.  The armature for every rite stock steel shelves,

in a spectrum from birth to mourning: bowers for brides, balloons
for babies, easels for the dead, cards ready for congratulation

or condolence. The air wafts resinous and floral, set to thicken
to full fragrance once warm.  I take everything in, wishing

I had reason to linger, that my forbears hadn’t abandoned the
field for the cubicle, trading one cultivation for quite another.