I have a surprise for you, he calls
out, again and again, a chant
announced by the ring that follows the
slam of the screen door. A ring like
the one from the Tibetan meditation chimes
I once had- where did they go?
a gift from an old boyfriend who liked to
leave and come back bearing gifts.
He told me to listen to the ring until it faded to
silence. When you couldn’t tell
one from the other, you were supposed to hear
God. Or something.
I listened. I listen.
I have a surprise for you, his shoes with the thick
rubber soles, the better to grip a skateboard,
tapping an irregular tattoo on
the stairs. Now he can take them one
at a time, a march of triumph.
I have a surprise for you, he holds out a
fleshy ball of fist that smells of french fries and dirt,
almost forgets to open it, to reveal the surprise.
The surprise is always crushed jacaranda blossoms,
scooped from the yard. It is the season they fall, leaving
the lawn frosted with a garish embarrassment
of lavender. The flowers are nearly pulp,
pressed into the grime in the creases of his
palm. It’s for your hair, he says,
and if it breaks, I will go out there and get
you another. He points into the day, nearly gone.
Out there, he repeats. An adventurer.
One who makes outlandish
promises. How long before he learns that blossoms
from the ground are already
broken? Before he learns what a surprise really
is? Before he brings me no blossoms
at all? They’re for your hair, he says, as he
tilts the shy wilt of purple into my hand.
In all the long forgetting of my days,
if I could cut a swatch from the fabric of my
time and take it with me for my shroud-
Wrap me in this.