Pause here at the flower stand—mums
and gladiolas, purple carnations
dark as my heart. We are engaged
in a war, and I want to drag home
any distraction I can carry. Tonight
children will wake to bouquets of fire
that will take their breath away. Still,
I think of my life. The way you hold me,
sometimes, you could choke me.
There is no way to protect myself,
except by some brilliant defense. I want
the black iris with their sabered blooms.
I want the flame throwers: the peonies,
the sunflowers. I will cut down the beautiful ones
and let their nectared sweetness bleed
into the careless air. This is not the world
I'd hoped it could be. It is horrible,
the way we carry on. Last night, you catalogued
our arsenal. You taught me devastation
is a goal we announce in a celebration
of shrapnel. Our bombs shower
in anticipation of their marks. You said this
is to assure damage will be widely distributed.
What gruesome genius invents our brutal hearts?
When you touch me I am a stalk of green panic
and desire. Wait here while I decide which
of these sprigs of blossoming heartbreak I can afford
to bring into my home. Tonight dreams will erupt
in chaotic buds of flame. This is the world we have
arranged. It is horrible, this way we carry on.
Copyright © 2014 by Camille Dungy. Reprinted from Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database.