Flowers, Always

Inexplicable, the sign outside a deli scrawled
                                 and below that: ALWAYS.
But there were no flowers. And I have never
seen an Always. I would like to,
                                              and I have looked.
I have kept my eye keen
                                        for Always, have liked
its idea like an expensive purse, coveting it as
it appears,
            riding the arms of rich ladies who are
so very lady.                      I've rolled on velvet
            cushions where I heard Always slept,
and I once tried to kiss Always,
                  but I don't think it was the Always
I was looking for.
I like your Always, it looks
such a demanding pet. It looks like it kisses
nice and soft.
                         It looks like the bruise I found
flowering on my knee.
                                    I fell down at your voice.
Not to worry, I got right back up, walked ten
more blocks
                     and by then I was halfway home.
I knock my knees blue
                                         and scabbed crawling
toward you, wanting flowers,
                               and always, always, always
to slide against the cold vinyl of a car's seat,
your pale hands
                            on the bare backs of my legs,
that's one Always I want, and whoever knew
there were so many species
                              of Always? Your bare hands
on the pale backs
                            of my thighs, printing bruise,
and if you said Flowers, said Always and we
could erect a forever
                                    of something like sheets
                         and breakfast and an ordinary
day, my eyes would
                always slide across the table toward
       to warm their twin marbles in your palm,
my face would flower
                          for you daily, so that when we
die, roses might petal
                                themselves out our throats.

Cate Marvin, "Flowers, Always" from Fragment of the Head of a Queen. Copyright © 2007 by Cate Marvin. Reprinted by permission of Sarabande Books, Inc.,
Source: Fragment of the Head of a Queen (Sarabande Books, 2007)
More Poems by Cate Marvin