... the old man told the young girl, how he
by Melissa Morphew
wrote his soon-to-be wife letters every day
for a hundred days;
he wrote them with a special ink
made of flowers, so they would perfume her fingers
with his words, the dianthus-light shimmer
of his love;
she kept the letters hidden under her pillow,
but soon they bloomed into sprays of bougainvillea,
passion-flower vine, green-bright hummingbirds
to flit in and out her open windows, radiant,
and the maids refused to clean her room,
such a chaos of flowers,
soon the blooms were creeping out
the door and down the hall;
her mother and father
concerned about any love as strong
as the color green, the color blue, asked her
if she didn’t want to marry Ferdinand, the baker?
She could live off ginger snaps and teacakes,
pale pink petit-fours? She could grow fat,
with doughy arms and doughy breasts,
give birth to a dozen doughy children?
What did she want with words,
words that could alchemy into birds, flowers—
words like a thousand golden fish—a penumbra of coi,
thimble-sized and lightning, a shower
of golden satellites, gloriole...
Her house would always be chaos, they told her.
She’d run out of cages, vases, fish bowls.
What did she want with miracles?
Now, a thick, sweet pound cake—that was love...