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

sweet clusters 

shamelessly driven

by the desire for one more bouquet

before it is all too late.


River Siren Greets the Sun
The Origin
Karen Goulet
Artist Bio & Statement