‘Mr. Dobson & the After-Life of Carnations’ by Wong May
Mr. Dobson & the After-Life of Carnations by Wong May
If there are secrets
A man can keep, apart from Death
He believes in them. From the florist’s dump
of rotting ferns & tall boxes marked “Holland”
He picked carnations, discreetly
- to undo
The wires, stem by stem, leaching
out the stopped blood the torsion
In sand; count 9 weeks
& they open discreetly
Cogwheels catching cogwheels
As in a clocksmith’s dream of heaven
so many military decorations!
… Unwound, they must take up all time,
From the park-attendant’s wheelbarrow
there are spares, strays, seconds
Lobelia, alyssum, snapdragon
& the gross tobacco plant
That holds its breath all day
To breathe at night
Like a perfume factory in Spain.
Another gift from the public garden,
Transplanted it wafts upstairs
Summer nights meaning you do the same.
Isn’t holding your breath
a feat like happiness?
At length you see little stars, little fishes.
“If it grows”, he said
“It is a cutting.”
He kept 2 families & lived to the end
in a basement with a woman
Who received the families
At church that day
Like one in the safe-keeping of a trance.
& she was unharmed.
Nor is the garden rolled up after him like a rug,
pansies fade in & out,
Making cat- faces,
such dazed looks
- Human, we must love
till we die.
A garden of the held-breath then
one draws a long last, count ten
it spans like a rainbow
The negative of some paragraph
The flowers each in a different shade of dark —
He believes in them.
Picasso’s Tears by Wong May is now available from Octopus Books.
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