Brian Blanchfield, Salutatorian

Poppy number two is just now molting—
or, what should I call it, a debut? If you
ever took apart a tennis ball, that; plus
the cram of a prom dress inside.
The gender secret, flowering, inversion
version. Last year I picked out and saved
like holy prepuces the split green shells
quartered and shorn and fallen into the bush,
but their shrivel was a disappointment. I’d been
as solemn as a sacrament, retrieving. The breeze
seems to encourage the shirk, and the sun
helps the thick seams to loosen, I think. Not
to record, poetry; to elapse the time it takes. Now
the complex pucker, more open persimmon,
less bunched umber, and the shell like an accent hat
Lucy Ricardo might have windowshopped
in Murray Hill. Then, now, a boy, all of fifteen,
bikes uphill behind me, singing freely
in the voice, half horn, that boys his age
produce and often, if gay, retain. I can tell
it’s an anthem, his song, collaborating
with the pump of his pedalwork, along
the easy grade, and to him I’m Idaho
passing through it. I catch “like home to me”
and, belted, “the freeway that never ends,”
showtune big. Back to the blossom,
fist-sized now, or heart-, as they tell you still
in school, for a touchstone. Its predecessor
by a couple days, perhaps in sympathy,
seems to freshen, having been spread
to bright wet pages by the overnight rain,
exposing the inky matrix, blot and pad,
which for now to succeed is to conceal.
A miracle google doesn’t know his song.