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Poem Number 049

Because You Left Me a Handful of Daffodils

Max Garland

I suddenly thought of Brenda Hatfield, queen
of the 5th grade, Concord Elementary.
A very thin, shy girl, almost
as tall as Audrey Hepburn,
but blond.

She wore a dress based upon the principle
of the daffodil: puffed sleeves,
inflated bodice, profusion
of frills along the shoulder blades
and hemline.

A dress based upon the principle of girl
as flower; everything unfolding, spilling
outward and downward: ribbon, stole,
corsage, sash.

It was the only thing I was ever
Elected. A very short king.
I wore a bow tie, and felt
Like a third-grader.

Even the scent of daffodils you left
reminds me. It was a spring night.
And escorting her down the runway
was a losing battle, trying to march
down among the full, thick folds
of crinoline, into the barrage of her
father's flashbulbs, wading
the backwash of her mother's
perfume: scared, smiling,
tiny, down at the end
of that long, thin, Audrey Hepburn arm,
where I was king.

from The Postal Confessions, 1995
University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, MA

Copyright 1995 by Max Garland.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced with permission (click for permissions information).