The Secret Language of Flowers, or The Enigma of Unrequited Love in Rose Talk

The last month of 1820

was a dying bouquet.

Women wore hyacinths

in ashy chignon buns,

blue laced with sunlight.

Men slashed gardenias

across their throats

like box blades, leaving

the slated white to

stain their collarbones.

They say every flower

is a secret language;

where yellow sees kin,

red sees limerence

and the blood of angels.

White is a purity ring

of hope, of sleepsongs

and his wrists on yours.

When I met you,

there were black petals

resting on your left foot–

dark magic, you said.

A columbine, a primrose,

pollen mixed with nightfall.

You took the flower from off

your body and tucked it

into my hair, told me it was

dying nightshade, louder

than red and twice as lucky.

When you left

it rained for

days, enough to wither the

tongues of the flowers,

kill their spoken word, wash

the black out with salt.

Your roses were a dark

cloud, and I’m finally learning

how to unlearn their language.