A LILAC SPRIG

M. Shayne Bell

On Lincoln’s casket—O, somber day—Whitman placed a lilac sprig.
Upon a grave where no one comes but me, I place a lilac sprig.
 
Who else remembers brightened days? Who else walks out this far, and late?
I take the path alone, but think of hands that graced a lilac sprig.
 
In lowlands far, across a sea, I stepped into a little shop
for in its crowded window I had seen, encased, a lilac sprig.
 
They do not grow that flower there: it is to them most dear, for rare—
in one groom’s hands, with lemon grass all interlaced: a lilac sprig.
 
I read last night about a king who in a rage rode out the gate;
no knight, priest, no jester’s jibe could stop him—posthaste: a lilac sprig!
 
I tarry, but the day does not; bees have even left the flower
that brought me love and dulled the loss—their honey tastes a lilac sprig.

 

M. SHAYNE BELL received a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (1991). His poem, “One Hundred Years of Russian Revolution," was a finalist for the Rhysling Award (1989). His poetry has been published in Modern Haiku, The Fibonacci Review, The Ghazal Page, Shot Glass Journal, Dialogue, Sunstone, Amazing Stories, Asimov’s, etc. Bell also publishes science fiction, and has been a finalist for the Hugo and Nebula awards. He received a first place Writers of the Future award (1990)