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Fallen Flowers: A Sestina This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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Saturday morning there is rain
at market. Shawled women sell cheese and bread,
boys peddle exhausted vegetables. My mother buys soap
that smells of tulips and sadness from a blind man on the sidewalk.
I taste grass and onion and wood and I see purple.
Small flowers, bruised silk, crushed in the sidewalk, dying.

The biscotti lady, the fish man, they are beautiful and we are all dying.
We are too tired to smell the blood of blossoms mixed with the rain
dripping down the beige, awful perfume in puddles of barely purple.
They are soft and hurt and useless, not like the hearty robust bread,
rich with rye, that the refugee baker sells, her shoes uncertain on the rough sidewalk.
Bread feeds. The flowers merely wash away like bubbles of soap.

The paintings drip, the cheese sours, verbena streams flow from a bar of beeswax soap.
It is spring, we are wilting, the snow and laughter are dying.
And the forgotten bouquet does not even twitch on the sidewalk.
People talk, wind chimes sigh misty tears, it is the rain-
time of our lives. The flower-seller’s face is rough, dense like pumpernickel bread.
The chatter, the cool damp breeze and candles fade; the world is opaque and purple.

The woman in grey takes the money in her hands, mottled with red and purple,
knotted with age; rough, as if scrubbed and scrubbed with lye soap
her whole long life. She is a strong country woman, raised on bread
and fresh air. Now she is here, in this city, selling dim flowers, her self quietly dying.
She remembers home, her father, feeding the chickens and playing in the rain
but she does not stand on grass. Here it is smothered by miles of blank sidewalk.

She does not say this; I read it in her eyes as she looks at the corpses on the sidewalk.
On the outside she is gray, but her soul is bright, colorful, scintillating sparks of purple.
At least, that’s what I’d like to think. I get these dreams when it rains,
and with the sun, they fade away, sweet and disintegrating as soap.
This is my life between the smiles and the inside jokes: crazy dreams, dying
when real life claims them, my hopes rising for nothing, made of yeasty bread.

And then they eat it, the tyrannical they, dousing the bread
of life in butter and gnawing it slobbering, the crusts falling spittle-damp to the sidewalk.
In the hunched shoulders of the grandmother buying pickles, I see some memory dying.
I sense a fading love in the hard-faced man, trading wages for a fresh eggplant, purple
with the scent of summers past. The little cakes of soap
disappear fast, we need the sunflower scent to ward away life’s howling rain.

But remember after rain, splashed across the sky a reminder, more filling than any bread
appears. The rainbows in cloud soap foam do not all pop and shatter down the sidewalk.
Some grow wings, huge and beautiful, shining impossibly purple, hope never dying.




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