Thursday, April 22, 2010

Memory

When I was four, a man
selling flowers on an island in the center
of a city street, leaned into my father's
car window and placed one in
my hair. More than petals, I remember

the dirt beneath his nails
as if he'd just pulled those flowers
from a garden, and for me only. My father
drove forward, his eyes
flashing quickly

in the rear view mirror. Pale
seeds, or tiny eggs left blind
in an abandoned nest. Tonight
the scent of burning sage

blossoms over the boulevard
and lip of shore. A man bundles
the dried leaves with colored thread: blue,
red, gold. His hands

are quick and open. And the smoke
touches me, brushes
through my hair its grey wing.

-Ely Shipley