The spring when I first loved you
I wore a mustard-colored skirt,
and the same kind of strappy
sandals I still wear.
Shocking to think
how young I was then.

Sometimes I want to ask you
why you never loved me
back. But the necessity
of asking answers itself.
And what could you say,
that I was too old even then.

You might say
you do not know,
that these things
lie in the inexplicable,
usually my favorite category.
You would not admit
that I made the fatal error
of loving first,
of wanting,
the one unforgivable sin:
to need.

Sometimes I think of what
Faulkner called his
last walk in April,
when he fell in love
with some young woman
he could never have,
and though he knew that
he still tried,
as I did that April.

That spring wild mustard filled
the hills outside Ensenada,
more rampant than I have ever seen.
I took a bus there to visit my sister
in a last chance hospital,
where cancer patients
took snake venom,
Why do they say
“hope against hope.”
What does that mean?

It was a hard spring,
painfully in bloom
acres of Black-Eyed Susan
in the heart of town,
the desert bright
with brittle bush.

At Easter I picked the
largest wildflower bouquet
I have ever picked.
It was the first spring
when all the world
seemed too young.

I bought new panties,
a spring thing.
Years later I could see
the panties were already
too large, but I did not
know then
how hopeless it was,
hope pitted against itself.

It was a turning spring
when I began to become
a woman in another phase,
the final phase I suppose,
but I do not know for sure.

After a wild, relentless winter,
spring, too, was without mercy.
I rode the city bus
through fields of wild flowers,
seeded perhaps,
and read a letter you
sent with a small purple
bloom pressed inside.

Therein lies the problem,
where the pain has always been.
Some young woman
brought you a wildflower
bouquet and you fell in love.
I always thought that weeds
and wild things were mine,
until then.

Easter has come again,
I picked mustard,
a few sprigs of something
I still cannot name,
and wild lilac, wondering
what kind of person
would prefer the word
who would purposely
drop wild like a
maiden name.

I take great pride in
my recovery,
that I rarely think of you now,
but the day after Easter
you hug me in a dream,
and when I awake
life is so dull to me by comparison
that I retreat back into winter
and do not open the curtains
all day.

Four years. A perfect square.
All the while I continue
my efforts to mature graciously,
to season.
You too have thickened
in the middle by now,
have crossed through some
barrier that provoked a depressing
discussion of age when you
last called.

Today I am wearing
the mustard colored skirt
My breasts are fuller,
closer to my waist.
Looking in the mirror
I am thankful I have
always been long-waisted.

If you had loved me
that spring who knows
what would have happened,
if it would have been
seasonal or everlasting.

I always loved wildflowers
quietly, as I tend to do most
Later they became more chic
and something was lost,
as it always is when that happens.

All this year
I have set about
reclaiming my life
for my own eyes,
doing things as I do them.
It occurs to me
I need to take
my love of wildflowers
back just for myself,
between me and them.

I did not know then
what I know now,
and even now
I could not say what
it is.