For David, on His Birthday in June
Lilacs no longer bloom in this part of the state,
and lilies of the valley have dwindled into dark buttered flecks.
Instead we have the peony opening its packed head, so luxuriant it requires
whole contingents -- ants,
busy in there, as a factory.
June's flower is the rose.
June's gem is the pearl:
the hybrid of those two is the peony.
Even so, how could we not admire
the peony's weird sister freak, the petunia,
fleshy, easily hurt (I identify!),
like a very nice drunk at a party.
And weirdly, immediately dated:
a gramophone horn
or a poodle skirt. Maybe more accurately:
a woman walking home barefoot
at dawn, still in something purple and cheap
and telling herself
gin is a hallucinogen
and she regrets nothing -- hardly.
The flower with a fuzzy stem most likely to have been
invented in a dollar store bin.
The flower most like a row of flags at an auto
dealership's grand opening.
The flower more akin to the floppy pad of the mollusk
than the pearl on its brink, the pearl which is,
as I already mentioned,
although not, depending on what internet site you consult,
the only contender. Some insist on the amethyst,
although that sounds, for those of us born in the lovely
second life of spring,
awfully pugilistic, I think. And so,
in the midst of that debate, I want to wish you an early
happy birthday, David,
on this day at the brim --
when May is about to turn from
an auxiliary verb into something
so much more (hope lifts its heavy head) exciting!
-- Lee Upton
5 / 30 / 08