The Lilac Thief
Lilacs are not sexy and this is not a sexy poem.
I wanted to write a silky poem
describe the intoxicating fragrance of lilacs in full bloom.
I wanted to conjure memories and tie them with a pliable metaphor and an absolute adulation.
The lilac spirits had other things in mind.
Lilacs are a hardy and abbreviated evidence of unfettered memory-
… age 12 giving your mother cheap lilac perfume you bought with your own money
and her giving it back to you -almost full – when you were 18
telling you it was her allergies.
You knew it was a lie
you loved her anyway.
… living in a duplex on a dusty alley
stopped by the familiar smell of their bittersweet surrender
to the heat of summer settling in –
telling you it was too late for a meaningful garden.
… moving to yet another new place
determining where to live
contingent on the accessibility of a lilac bush.
… digging up lilac shoots for your auntie
on the now empty lot where she grew up.
… traveling for hours to the city in order to steal some clusters
from the alley of a stranger because you just couldn’t wait
for them to blossom further north.
… the refining of your thievery skills –
scouting streets, looking closely at changing color,
strategizing your moves
in order to snatch clusters at just the right time.
… knowing a few unopened buds
means a few more days of happiness.
… feeling no remorse
when thinking of every place
you have ever held lilacs hostage.
… trying to preserve blossoms whose refusal was absolute
in the brittle brown corpses
lying between pages
of a book.
… wanting to live on Lilac Street
then noticing there were no lilac bushes
on Lilac Street
and the unceremonious letting go of a dream come true
while sitting in your car
on Lilac Street.
… realizing you are part of a sisterhood,
a clan of women who love lilacs the best and you will never
be entirely alone – because of the dedication that comes
with this particular love.
… and perhaps lilacs are a little sexy…
Lilacs are untamable clusters of temptation effusing the fragrance of memory
and the inevitable.
They never quite behave instead drape their beauty in a nonchalant manner
holding little concern about how they are admired.
In a mason jar or vase, they are unapologetically wild and glorious.
They give a pleasure that will end abruptly –
filling the air with a pungent decay that holds on to
notes of sweetness
you will linger over to the bitter end
often resulting in a hunger
that drives you back out the door
early in the morning
a frenzied thief -sleuthing discreet alleys
alert and prepared to hurriedly clip a few more
by the desire for one more bouquet
before it is all too late.