The Snow” and “About Flowers”
In another life I lived
in my own country,
a professor, maybe.
Here I work part-time, care for
children, am perhaps more compliant
than I might have been.
But I’ve inhabited that other life almost
as if I lived it — my office, the walk
from the college, the snow — all
imagined so thoroughly
that I have felt real pleasure, real cold.
It’s a way of having few regrets.
Meanwhile, in my home country,
everyone else lives and dies
more or less as if I was among them.
I am still surprised that I can’t
be in two places at once, or forever,
and that I am not the Pyramids, or Paris.
That first Valentine’s day —
was it the first? Perhaps it was.
We were married, together at last,
our years of long-distance finally over.
No, it wasn’t the first.
The first you’d been drafted to Lohatla.
I sent you carnations and champagne.
The florist said the army was astounded.
Maybe it was the second,
me in graduate school, you working twelve hour
days — or the third? Most likely, the fourth,
when I’d quit my far away work to see you more.
It must have been the fourth, because the fifth
I was in California, my grandmother meeting
the bump who became our son.
It was the fourth year, definitely.
Now I’ve lost my train of thought —
so many memories, and more forgotten —
it was about flowers, and your mother
who hastily picked them from her garden
and even asked Aunt Suzy to contribute
when you realised it was Valentine’s —
and how embarrassed I was (your mother! your Aunt Suzy!!)
and how beautiful the flowers were, how bountiful,
and how strong and brown your hands were, offering them.
Emily Buchanan is a poet, sometimes-editor, businessperson and family member. She has volunteered for Off the Wall Poetry and for a conservation group in the village where she lives in the Eastern Cape. Her main occupation, however, seems to be reading. She is on Instagram as poemily_emily.