Jean L. Kreiling

I wonder if it matters what I wear tonight.
Will my beloved, still unknown, be there tonight? 

My mother would advise that I wear black,
but I prefer to dress with far more flair tonight. 

My short red skirt might catch the eye of one
who’s tall, good-looking, rich, and debonair tonight. 

A silky low-cut blouse might turn his head;
a bit of milky skin should be left bare tonight. 

Some strappy five-inch heels might make him think
of what — besides small talk — we two could share tonight. 

I’ll ask him if he’ll bring me some champagne.
I’ll drink too many glassfuls. Do I dare tonight? 

Or will a coffee spoon suffice to measure
the evening’s thrills? Oh, why should fate be fair tonight? 

He won’t be there, and I’ll go home alone.
I’ll wear my blue jeans. Nobody will care tonight.



No pinks, no pansies, no petunias — not this spring.
I only stare at my unplanted plot this spring. 

Year after year, I’ve coaxed the colors from the dirt;
my neighbors must be thinking I forgot this spring. 

They don’t know that unfolding leaves would close my throat,
that sunlight only makes my tears burn hot this spring. 

The brazen health of bursting buds would nauseate
a stomach that’s already in a knot this spring. 

I can’t bear kneeling down to dig and weed and prune;
I”ve knelt — in earnest, but in vain —a lot this spring. 

Where loss has put down roots, no stems will rise;
a crop of stones would have a better shot this spring. 

Why nurture red and violet ephemera?
Why watch them fall to drought and pests and rot this spring? 

I’ll watch the neighbors’ marigolds and daisies thrive,
their distant vigor all the hope I’ve got this spring. 

I’ll know that grief has eased if I can plant a few
naïvely dazzling dahlias in a pot this spring.


JEAN L. KREILING’s poetry has been published widely in print journals, online journals, and anthologies. She is a past winner of the String Poet Prize and the Able Muse Write Prize, and she has been a finalist for the Frost Farm Prize, the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award, and the Richard Wilbur Poetry Award.