[The question of those purple blooms]


The question of those purple blooms
being weeds or flowers is upon us once again.
It's a question of desire: if you want them
that's one thing; if they just appear
without your hand, another.
I was out for a walk
when the tight clustering along a garden gate
made them look like things from an era
of simple pleasures.
For days after I saw them,
last thing before sleep and first
when I awoke. Then this came back:
in Warsaw where I once lived,
on a cold afternoon, on the way to the tram
at Broniewskiego
I saw a chimp running down the sidewalk.
Everyone saw it. No one moved.
Everyone watched until the chimp
found a doorway and stopped to rest—
like anyone would for a moment
out of the cold, spring wind.
No one was running after him.
On the same street, in another doorway,
an old woman was selling purple bouquets,
perfect for a tiny vase;
she lashed the blooms together with dirty string.
Weed or flower, pulled from the same dark,
with bound stems, I bought a bunch
and held them like the others did,
as was the custom, sensibly, blooms down,
those blooms picked anywhere along a road.
What were they called? What did I get?
King Baby, before you had a name,
before I took you home, I held you like that.