- What it Was Like, and: Inflorescences
What it Was Like
Since you asked I believe I have a kind of feverish hunger not a light flutter more like the squall we had in April, sudden.
Do you remember? And no, I do not define myself as orphan, more like a blue iris in a swamp where frogs sing loud as trumpets.
And do you know what happened next? In the hazy dusk of that first afternoon, I became ferocious as if loss were a foreign country I had visited against my will.
I heard a growl that began low and guttural, traveled faster and faster. People were afraid to come near me. I was afraid to let them.
Some plants produce a single flower on each flower stalk; many, though, have flowers arranged in groups on the main stalk. This is called an inflorescence.—The Dorling Kindersley Visual Encyclopedia
Once in a snowdrift of sleep the sheet folded its crisp crease like a heart looking for its twin in the cold. [End Page 140]
I was not expecting anything.
Once in the hour between the storm and my mother’s dying voice, I held my breath in the unlikeliest of dreams, the absent syllables clustered like marbles in my mouth.
Once where I live I gathered evidence that I was loved: the lingam the shape of an egg, the Gilhoolie jar opener in the doodah drawer, an overstuffed recipe file with five different index cards just for various types of cream of mushroom soup.
I gave my twenty-one-year-old daughter Aladdin invitations I had bought for her eight-year-old birthday party; she was ecstatic.
Here in the cadence between pain’s husky gasps, the black wick sizzling like meat on the grill, here in the hour between the scattering of salt and the scattering of ashes,
the departure is a napkin left at the bar folded into a white lily. I was always alone even when we were all here together hiding in the cup center. [End Page 141]
Donna Prinzmetal has taught creative writing for more than twenty years in organizations such as Writers in the Schools, Wordstock, and early on, at ucla Extension and for California Poets in the Schools. Her work has appeared in two anthologies: Chance of a Ghost and A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry.