During the war, women hid messages
inside white flowers
tucked in their hair. They crossed
enemy lines, slipped the blossoms
into soldiers’ fists. What might
have been a child’s crown
for her communion, an offering
at a grave, might win the war.
The ovule, the style, the stigma—
what seemed to unfurl overnight
took weeks, even years.
Dream your hand plucks the bloom,
its widest petals like porcelain,
and a halo of bees skims your arms.
Upon waking, walk to the docks,
the bloom heavy behind your ear,
and breathe in its sweet persistence,
its scent of sea salt and gutted fish.
Copyright © 2019 by Helena Mesa. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 9, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.