The Lilacs

Lilacs 006 They're too early, the lilacs,

giving off their scent before mid-May.

One year it was nearly June,

the turn of the new century,

my summer in the hospital.

The first week was confusion

and floor plans and schedules

and being late for chapel

because I got off at the wrong floor

and couldn't find my way back down.

At the end of the week,

I stood in the backyard

looking up at the blossoms

lavender and white and deeper purple

and undertones of pink.

I sat on the swing like a little girl

and breathed in the beauty

heavy and sweet

filling my head with dreams.

Did they ever smell more vivid?

Lilacs 005

That summer I misbehaved.

I smoked in the treehouse

and danced at a club

and stayed in bed all Saturday

staring at the ceiling.

In the hospital I prayed 

over tiny babies 

and hopeful mothers

and trying-to-be-forgiven saints

and eaten-alive sinners.

At home, the lilacs went by

the grass grew wild and sharp

and filled the air when cut,

a different weight than lilacs.

The scent of summer, not spring.

When the lilacs bloomed that year

I didn't know who I was, quite.

I wanted something, 

maybe me, whoever that was, 

vivid and sweet and pink and white.

Lilacs 009
Ten more years of lilacs, 

and I still go out and smell them.

I sit on the swing and dream,.

discovering something more

as I lean into their fragrance.

5 thoughts on “The Lilacs”

  1. Beautiful. This poem’s words and images linger, fragrant, in the air like the scent of lilacs… and makes my coming venture into CPE seem, strangely, a little less intimidating!

  2. I am so delighted this year to be where there are lilacs, once again. And here too they are blooming, beautiful, fragrant and sweet! Alas, my dreams these days are more like nightmares – but I hope that to changes.

  3. i can remember picking lilacs on my way home from school, cuz i knew they were my momma’s favorite. i came home, entered the kitchen with a fistful of purple flowers, to findy daddy home from work, sitting at the table crying and momma standing by the phone. turns out she had just gotten word her mother had died… god is good that way with the timing… so i always think of lilacs as healing some.

  4. Love your poem. The lilacs are blooming very nicely inspite of the frosts we’ve had this week. My whole apartment complex is full of their scent. What a wondeful welcome…to just stand for a moment and smell the lilacs.

  5. I’ve never seen a blooming lilac – or any other kind. Would love to add this to my list of things experienced before I move on…..

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