A friend had a Minnesota catalogue company
send me plant-them-yourself dahlias by mail.
The tubers nested in a rumpled mess of shredded paper.
One strip, caught deep in a root’s cleavage
resisted, wouldn’t come out. I pulled carefully
at the white paper, reading its truncated sentence:
. . . enclosed manuscript for your Poetry Prize. I hope . . .
I remembered those publishers’ guidelines:
we will recycle those manuscripts not selected,
in a manner that will maintain the writers’ privacy.
Shredded, they sent the mess to nurseries, to protect
other bundles from being mishandled, torn. It took me
three hours to separate the fragments of that specific
font and paper from the other strips. I saved seven lines.
So this poem is for you—the one who wrote:
blossom twigs in a glass jar by the bed and God of the hinge,
potential or fallen: it’s that time of doubt again.
I want you to know I love that line, its surrendering tone,
its rhythm—and pinned it to my wall. In Autumn,
when my first red dahlia blooms, I’ll put it
in a glass jar, and place it under the word fallen.
Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 1997
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.