When the sun comes up in the morning
On some ragged green day in May
The magnolia will open its blossoms,
Plant its fragrance square in your way.
You’ll stand there with your bare face hung out
As you realize those pale old flowers
You bury your nose in make their scent from
Musk, decayed flesh, rose, citrus sours.
When you gather up the rust-stained petals
And stroke their silken insides
Will you remember that death reaps their beauty
And death has nothing to hide?
Death’s an old wall with perfect-laid bricks,
One on another clink clink clink,
And nowhere left for light to leak in through,
Not a crack or a crevice or a chink.
When the sun goes down on my wonder,
And the magnolia stands in the wind,
Quiet, its thick, waxy leaves stiff and formal,
The trunk slim and straight, bitter-skinned,
Bury me down among twining roots.
When you miss me you can come calling—
Pretend I’m still there in the magnolia
Long after the blossoms have fallen.