Rita Dove

from Vol. 18, No. 2 (Spring 1995)

Heroes

Rita Dove

A flower in a weedy field:
make it a poppy. You pick it.
Because it begins to wilt

you run to the nearest house
to ask for a jar of water.
The woman on the porch starts

screaming: you've plucked the last poppy
in her miserable garden, the one
that gave her the strength every morning

to rise! It's too late for apologies
though you go through the motions, offering
trinkets and a juicy spot in the written history

she wouldn't live to read, anyway.
So you strike her, she hits
her head on a white boulder

and there's nothing to be done
but break the stone into gravel
to prop up the flower in the stolen jar

you have to take along
because you're a fugitive now
and you can't leave clues.

Already the story's starting to unravel,
the villagers stirring as your heart
pounds into your throat. Why

did you pick that idiot flower?
Because it was the last one
and you knew

it was going to die.

 

"Heroes" also appears in the collection Motherlove
published in Spring 1995 by W. W. Norton.

Heroes | Motherhood | Roast Possum | Straw Hat

 

 
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