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Because You Left Me a Handful of Daffodils

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.

—Max Garland

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

Copyright 1995 by Max Garland.
All rights reserved.

Reprinted by permission of Salt Publishing. Copyright 2004 by Katia Kapovich. For further permissions information, contact Chris Hamilton-Emery, Salt Publishing, P.O. Box 937, Great Wilbraham, Cambridge, CB1 5JX UK, chris@saltpublishing.com.

Poetry 180

About the Poet

Max Garland is the author of two poetry collections, including Hunger Wide as Heaven (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2006). Garland served as the Wisconsin Poet Laureate from 2013-2014. A first generation college student, Garland left a ten-year career as a mail carrier to pursue his love of poetry.

Learn more about Max Garland at The Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters.