A mass of wild red poppies
blankets a vacant lot each spring.
As I pass this vision in red,
I remember my wife’s silk scarf.
Her clothes were not fancy —
her jewelry not real, but that scarf
was dazzling. A goldenrod yellow
background set off by randomly
scattered brilliant red poppies,
each blossom punctuated
by an ebony eye — so very like her own.
I never knew why it was important
to her or where she got it.
She wouldn’t say.
On her birthday each year
she retrieved it from its tissue-paper
nest in a Chinese lacquered box.
That evening she wore a black silk dress
with the red poppies draped round her neck.
At eight she called a taxi to go “out” she said.
Chanel No. 5 drifted through the closing door.
By midnight, she returned, laid her scarf away
for another year and went to bed.
She wouldn’t talk about the scarf,
no matter how I asked, but
she chose to be buried with it
around her neck.
Then I knew for certain —
she loved him more than me.