by Beverly Matherne
I remember the first time I saw them, in December, pink geraniums in her office window, hot pink, the only color against limestone, snow, and gray clouds. The flowers grew all winter, shameless of their opulent blooms, their large, circular leaves, the way they filled the window, as if to say “Take me, take me, I’m yours.” In those long stretches at 10 below, I would take the short cut from the library, time my treks with her office hours, stop at her open door, throw a “Hello, how goes?” and bow like an old coot from the Old West. In my Ford pickup, I took her to Scheu’s Café, to chamber concerts, auctions in Council Grove, Emporia, where Flint Hills swell and dip, where farmers and their wives unload Bavarian crystal, Lunt silver, antique Steinways and head south. In spring, when purple crocuses pushed up from the snow, I took her to my wheat farm, threw a table cloth on the barn floor. Her shivering under me, straw mingled in her black hair, I kissed her full on the lips, smelled her woman, smelled tractor grease, the earth, and gave her my mother’s double row of diamonds. Today, her long dead, and me 90 among white sheets in my hospital bed, I seek pink geraniums, hot pink, the only color against limestone, snow, and clouds.
This poem won the Hackney Literary Award for Poetry.
Published in Uncommonplace: An Anthology of Contemporary Louisiana Poets, Louisiana State University Press, 1998.