The Truth About Indecision
Our poetry reading was a great success
even though the heavens opened that day
in Pittsburgh and turned Maple Avenue,
our street, into Deluge Boulevard.
“The only time I believe in a supreme
being,” I told my wife, Judy, herself a poet
who was to read that night. “Only a god
could be this nasty,” I said, falling into the same
self-centered lunacy that my religious friends
favor. “This is god’s revenge upon my poor
atheist self,” I proclaimed, but she (for in
my atheist lexicon, god is an angry woman)
relented, the rain stopped, and it was
standing room only at our reading.
What I really wanted this poem to be
about was the day after our reading
when our friends fell in love with the
flowers and trees Judy had planted
in our back yard. They didn’t even mind
the organic calling cards our poodle, Mugsi,
had left for them, but that’s not what
I wanted to write about either.
It’s the names of flowers that inspired
this poem. Why do they call them Rose
of Sharon? Why not Sharon’s Rose—just
the kind of economy an editor requires.
What of these gorgeous bursts of pink
we call azaleas? Are there zaleas that
azaleas negate, as amorality negates morality?
And where are the lips that tulips connote?
Looking at them a strange misshapen mouth
comes to mind, but lips? Were marigolds
originally Mary’s gold? What happened
to the apostrophe? Has someone named
Mary ever traded a marigold for goods or cash?
What a bright and colorful world it would be
if Marys, or Kathys, or Larrys, or Johnys could
trade marigolds for movie tickets, tomatoes,
maple syrup, or bacon and eggs—especially
bacon and eggs. What if flowers became currency?
People could pay off mortgages with roses,
their cars with orchids, rent with dahlias,
and their college debt with peonies. But here’s
what I really wanted to write about:
Day lilies, the only aptly named flower
in our garden. They are lilies that last
a single day—like the fame of a poet,
or the bloom of Buddha’s final breath.
About the Author: Charlie Brice is the author of Flashcuts Out of Chaos (2016), Mnemosyne’s Hand (2018), and An Accident of Blood (2019), all from WordTech Editions. His poetry has been nominated for the Best of Net anthology and twice for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in The Atlanta Review, The Main Street Rag, Chiron Review, Permafrost, The Paterson Literary Review, and elsewhere.
Image Credit: Kazumasa Ogawa “Group of Azaleas” (1896) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.