The guilt-lilacs were a present at the door.
I put them in a Roman vase on the window
where everyone could see what you did
or at least think I’ve lived with a gentleman.
Perhaps you’d propose on the patio, they said,
through a mouthful of crackling champagne.
Pop questions like a cork. The clocks swelter,
wipe their glass eye with flowerless hands.
I ask them: why lilacs?
They smell of her.
Now they die in a wastepaper basket
as I go about my business, pack our belongings
in trunks already too full, write my name
on the labels. A bee zips in through the window
like an awkward word,
clings to carnation skeletons.
But the lilacs are terribly calm. They go so well
on the reeking bedside
with the poison-lilies, barbed roses—
awkward honeysuckle clambering
the walls as though heaving away
on flowery limbs. The botanic man—
petalled head tied to a stake.
Guilt-lilacs bruise in the sun.