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.
Brian Blanchfield is the author of three books of poetry and prose, most recently Proxies: Essays Near Knowing. He teaches in the MFA programs at University of Idaho and the Bennington Writing Seminars.