Waking from comalike sleep, I saw the poppies, with their limp necks and unregimented beauty. Pause, I thought, say something true: It was night, I wanted to kiss your lips, which remained supple, but all the water in them had been replaced with embalming compound. So I was angry. I loved the poppies, with their wide-open faces, how they carried themselves, beckoning to me instead of pushing away. The way in and the way out are the same, essentially: emotions disrupting thought, proximity to God, the pain of separation. I loved the poppies, with their effortless existence, like grief and fate, but tempered and formalized. Your hair was black and curly; I combed it.
Reprinted from Blackbird and Wolf © 2007 by Henri Cole, by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Learn more about FSG poets at fsgpoetry.com.
Henri Cole was born in Fukuoka, Japan, in 1956 and raised in
Date Published: 2007-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/poppies-0