Replies – a poem by Imogen Berry-Henshaw


Thank you for your valentine poem
set to Beethoven symphony number 7

And thank you, Rachel, Sophia,
Anna too
For saying you’d come to the funeral.

There were dandelions –
I held them and I was glad, yes

Because you were one.

May said we should go inside
But what does she know?
She opened her ruby woo lips
And swallowed the lie
he tenderly put inside
That oh so easy to swallow mouth.

The parcel was brown paper
with a butchers twine bow,
They all said so – left unopened
because I couldn’t remember how to.

Lily, they were naked in my dream
last night, like Picasso –
Pink and Butchered.
I thought about them less
than the size of their thighs
Which they hid my words behind,
my secret declarations,
That Maud left out
beside the lemonade stand.

They all love you,
Said to addressed this “Dear Lily”
but I can’t

It is not about you –
It’s about those dandelions.
I can’t let go.

Lily, I hope this finds you well?
May said ‘in with the old, Out the new.’
If only that were true.
I forgot to sew my hem
last year, it caught all the mud.
I washed the dirt away
Till all that was left was a yellow crease
And the smell of you.
Someone will iron it out in time
But the first pollen is the sweetest,
it stains the deepest.

A Major.
Time we had.
I thought I was a rose
then my thorns slipped off with my dress.
An entire bouquet,
Your valentine means the most,
I never thought that much.
Keep my precious posy safe
And the soil in sight,
My fingers are woven to both.

Dali’s clocks melted down the Valdepeñas,
I couldn’t remember his name
but four movements later
I do. Thank you.

With fondness, Lily.
Your imprint on my back,
Left by the slit in the blinds,
kissed me.

I wrote my replies.
Yet only seven.