Perennial

Oakley Flanagan

I once thought we had fought to become entitled
to love & divorce; leave the parade, go home mindless.
I was near senseless, forgetting what we’d inherited.
See, I was lonely as a young one, desperate to grow
into the men who wouldn’t give me a second
glance. That was not the same as grief. Lonely
when I first went out into the night, near-naked,
half-asleep with blitheness, possessing luxury:
I was unafraid, didn’t know a thing back then, too young
to be a flower blooming to spite a scythe: I survived.
A nation forgot. I almost did too. One morning
I found rosemary growing where it oughtn’t (cut down
as weed, unthinking). Later I began to find broken eggshells
in dustbins. Slimy chicks. Cold. A plague of locusts dogged
my bathroom with grim persistence, the kitchen sink filled
with blood, baptised walls red, there was nothing white
left. I lost my finger-prints one by one (means of identification). 
Quitting to return with answers, I visited an occult store. The palmist 
could tell me nothing without lines for prompting her interpretation,
history of me. She asked I leave, smelling something unpleasant
about me. Rotten fruit cast out by grocer boys into unlit alleyways
as I returned home restless, greeted by my queer house’s heady stink. 
The postman had stopped delivering letters, people had stopped writing 
them. My dog messed the floor, gave out sudden yelps of pain
as if struck. Rosemary sprouted about the windows
reclaiming my house (Law observed the letter, Memory compulsive
an order as Forgetting), a photo covered with black solemnity,
lace observed as rosemary shrouded, day by day (perhaps
it was night), plucking out the visible, holing me in near darkness
to impress on me the weight of a body afforded light, gadding
around & calling itself lonely. Today I am not; in the absence
of a sexed body to mourn. There are plenty alive issuing summons.