from The Spring Flowers Own: “The morning after / my death”

By Etel Adnan b. 1925 Etel Adnan
The morning after
my death
we will sit in cafés
but I will not
be there
I will not be


There was the great death of birds
the moon was consumed with
the stars were visible
until noon.

Green was the forest drenched
with shadows
the roads were serpentine

A redwood tree stood
with its lean and lit body
unable to follow the
cars that went by with
a tree is always an immutable

The moon darkened at dawn
the mountain quivered
with anticipation
and the ocean was double-shaded:
the blue of its surface with the
blue of flowers
mingled in horizontal water trails
there was a breeze to
witness the hour


The sun darkened at the
fifth hour of the
the beach was covered with
pebbles started to pour into holes
and waves came in like


The moon darkened on Christmas eve
angels ate lemons
in illuminated churches
there was a blue rug
planted with stars
above our heads
lemonade and war news
competed for our attention
our breath was warmer than
the hills.


There was a great slaughter of
rocks   of spring leaves
of creeks
the stars showed fully
the last king of the Mountain
gave battle
and got killed.

We lay on the grass
covered dried blood with our
green blades swayed between
our teeth.


We went out to sea
a bank of whales was heading
a young man among us a hero
tried to straddle one of the
sea creatures
his body emerged as a muddy pool
                           as mud
we waved goodbye to his remnants
happy not to have to bury
him in the early hours of the day

We got drunk in a barroom
the small town of Fairfax
had just gone to bed
cherry trees were bending under the
weight of their flowers:
they were involved in a ceremonial
dance to which no one
had ever been invited.


I know flowers to be funeral companions
they make poisons and venoms
and eat abandoned stone walls

I know flowers shine stronger
than the sun
their eclipse means the end of

but I love flowers for their treachery
their fragile bodies
grace my imagination’s avenues

without their presence
my mind would be an unmarked


We met a great storm at sea
looked back at the
rocking cliffs
the sand was going under
black birds were
the storm ate friends and foes
water turned into salt for
my wounds.


Flowers end in frozen patterns
artificial gardens cover
the floors
we get up close to midnight
search with powerful lights
the tiniest shrubs on the
A stream desperately is running to
the ocean


Etel Adnan, from “The Spring Flowers Own" from The Spring Flowers Own & The Manifestations of the Voyage. Copyright © 1990 by Etel Adnan.  Reprinted by permission of Post-Apollo Press.

Source: The Spring Flowers Own & The Manifestations of the Voyage (The Post-Apollo Press, 1990)

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Poet Etel Adnan b. 1925

Subjects Living, Death, Relationships, Nature, Trees & Flowers, The Body

Poetic Terms Free Verse


Poet, essayist, and painter Etel Adnan was born in Beirut, Lebanon. The daughter of a Greek Christian mother and a Syrian Muslim father, she spoke both Greek and Arabic with her parents, but French became her primary language upon enrolling in a French Lebanese Catholic school at the age of five. While working for the French Information Bureau, she attended at the Ecole Supérieure de Lettres de Beyrouth, where she composed her . . .

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SUBJECT Living, Death, Relationships, Nature, Trees & Flowers, The Body

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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