A gift is a risk. Let roses be the prodrome.
It’s like it dropped a gold and a silver
ring with its name on it
in my brain. That was the gift
before the storm. It sent you a stumbling
block. Just scribble yes or no
on the form. Now every time the doorbell
rings I think someone’s sent me one.
A gift is a guess. Did it come close?
It’s what you need most
that turns you nerve side out. Right
now I think I’m growing something
long thought and kind of
clumsy. Just wrap it in drafts with awk
in the margins. Stuff it
in a wooden pillow with a drawer.
A gift is a task. It could be oxblood
or puce. You have to decide
whether to send those flowers that drop
whole from the stem or
the ones whose petals fall one
by one. You know how rain will
turn the roses nerve side out?
A gift is a test. They need to know that.
When she wrote their thorns
are the best part of them I can’t begin
to tell you how many kinds of
right she was. Now I think I’m growing
something long thought
to be the prerogative of certain
entitled individuals. Wings
or thorns. When all I wanted was
a more subtle pulse
at the throat bone. Well what size
do you wear? I am smelting you a surprise.
Not another luminous lyre
cum lint remover. Take it
from me. If you depend on gifts
for what you need you’ll end up with
a gold and a silver shoe both
for the same lame foot.
Copyright © 2015 by Alice Fulton. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 22, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.