Aaron Belz

Naming Flowers

Naming flowers might be a poet’s trick,
but the rose bushes across the street,
green now in the shade of a green ash
and surrounded by overgrown crossvine,
the rose bushes hanging partly out
over the gravelly roadside, flowerless,
don’t remind me of us, or you, or how
you once empowered me with your anger,
nor do they remind me of myself, now,
depleted in your absence, because
aside from the occasional full breeze
that ruffles them, and though their leaves
are spiderwebbed, beetle-eaten, they
seem at peace with who they are.

No, we were more like flame azaleas
growing wild in a highway ditch,
like gentian, blood root, foam flower,
we were solomon’s seal, blazing star
mown down by jumpsuited inmates,
stalks and bright petals scattered among
rain-mucky fescue, fallen among clumps
of sweetgrass that grow in marshier
places, and that is not to say our love
was ephemeral but that it was maybe too
bright and mistaken for weeds, viable only
among hippies and children who pick
and assemble them into bouquets,
place them on domestic coffee tables
as if they had value other than the value
that is immediately apparent, maybe
some brightness for a day, a poet’s trick.

Aaron Belz is a poet and essayist who has published across a wide range of venues, from Wired to Christian History to Boston Review. He currently serves as a contributing editor for Capital Commentary, the weekly current-affairs publication of the Center for Public Justice in Washington, D.C., and writes regularly for The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Books & Culture, and other periodicals. He has published two books of poetry, TheBird Hoverer (2007) and Lovely,Raspberry (2010); a third, Glitter Bomb, is forthcoming from Persea Books.

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