Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Heliotrope

(Olivier Theatre, South Bank)

I was his favorite, simply that.
                      And you can see

for yourself why it might have been so:
                     the lushest, least

likely to weary the eyes of all
                     the serried wavelengths.

Never obvious.
                     My bit

of the spectrum unstable somehow,
                     in a way that kept

bringing him back. Search
                     image

on your browser and you’ll see
                     what I mean.

I’ve never had the advantage of
                     sculptural

beauty, as the lily has, I haven’t
                     been able to boast

that stricture of line. That making-
                    no-mistakes. God

knows I’ve wished for it, beggars
                     can dream.

But no. Some neither-this-nor
                    that turns out to be

my sphere. Some manyness rather
                     than singular

perfection. Which I like to think
                     he thought about.

He made this place.
                     They named it

for him. And upholstered the seats
                     in heliotrope,

whose cluster of vowels and con-
                     sonants

he loved like my blue-going-violet-
                     with-touches-of-

gray. The vocal colors. Warm-up,
                     nightly, before

the play. So you see, they were
                     wrong, the ones

who called me unrequited. I
                     was in his throat,

among the folds and ridges and
                     beyond them to

the very dome upon whose curve
                     the heart resides.

Just think what it used to be then,
                     in the hour before

they’d let the rest of you in:
                     my many faces toward

the sun who spoke—no, sang—
                     my name.

Credit


Copyright © 2015 by Linda Gregerson. Used with permission of the author.

Author


Linda Gregerson

Linda Gregerson’s book Waterborne won the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Prize, and her book The Woman Who Died in Her Sleep was a finalist for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. She currently serves as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Date Published: 2016-01-26

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/heliotrope