Five Yellow Roses

What stopped her bawling was the doorbell
ringing, and a man standing there with five
yellow roses, bulked up with green fronds
and tied in a dinky knot with olive twine.

There was no card to say who the flowers
came from. The man’s uniform was blue
with a brown insignia of a spider on his right
top pocket that she saw he kept unbuttoned.

As he waltzed down the path to the gate
the Siamese cat that frequented the garden
raised its back and hissed. The man laughed
and flounced out to his waiting white van.

Oh, the shit-faced side streets of life! OK,
she’d been born in Madras, in a flowery tea shop
while an albino conjurer magicked a hare
to leap from his heavily-ringed brown fingers.

Five yellow roses? Enough to encourage her
to cook saffron rice, with turmeric-tinged prawns
and sautéed yellow courgettes. She didn’t play
the Ry Cooder where yellow roses say goodbye.

More Poems by Matthew Sweeney