She stands next
to her wooden pushcart,
flowers woven through dirty-blonde hair
splashing uncombed across a bare shoulder
above a cotton dress with daisy chains.
She is part of the diaspora,
flower children who didn’t turn
into mortgage bankers or feminists
or soccer moms kicking the ball
and life down the road
one day at a time
until they hit the white picket fence,
until they saw that shadow beckoning,
the one who ends all music festivals
that celebrate braless abandon.
She smiles and hands violets to passersby,
and I wonder who made the better choice.
The world needs bankers and lawyers
and such, so they say.
Doctors pull us out of the mud of germs
that seem to infect daylight itself,
and a short-haired priest
told me when the time was out of joint
that surely it all must mean something.
For the violet girl, that’s the sum total.
Life is something this and something that,
a procession of days
like a ragtag second line in New Orleans
that ends up somewhere just like the jazz notes
It all comes together somehow to make
But I can’t put my finger on it,
unlike the violet girl who believes,
like dear Alfred,
that the grand unified theory
is a violet or a nameless flower
in a crannied wall.
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