Flowers

— Vuong Vu

     “When I speak of flowers,
      it is to recall that at one time
      we were young.”
           —William Carlos Williams

When I was a child, I was truly happy,
and saw the world as nothing, but flowers—
everything bloomed: a spider web,
the colors of sunset, and clouds
puffs of like dandelions.
Even the sea, no one would call a rose,
but I saw how it lapped its petals upon the shore.

My mother had a garden,
Where I remember the fragrance of summer melons,
Where I remember spring time
when mustard plants bloomed like spills of sunlight.
My mother’s dahlias were as large as dinner plates,
Her sunflowers, radiant and beaded with bees.
Her hand were always in mud and manure,
But it is because of my mother’s garden
that I am a poet, and she is herself
a flower.

We spent hours reading seed catalogs
and considered the names of flowers—
snapdragons, lady slippers, larkspurs.
Consider the names: bachelor buttons, forget-me-nots—
Aren’t the names themselves flowers,
quaint blooms of words?

It is with the flowers of my childhood
that I come to you now, the scent
of those faded petals to help me sing this song.
I’ve come to tell that your love,
your love is also a flower, a plump red rose—
its soft petals, its fragrance, its stranglehold of thorns.

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