I have never met the neighbor who tends
his land with reverence that bears fruit in spring,
a feast of blushing hope tinged green. It mends,

his garden, winter’s long malaise, grim wing
of frost and dark wrapped tight about us all.
Tender lilacs unfurl its grip. Yielding

boughs offer trembling flower-flesh, enthrall
us, hold us still to drink their carnal scent.
But not my neighbor. He won’t see the fall,

his ex-wife tells me, or the lilacs bent
with snow. Across the yawning street tonight
purple blooms fade into sky, nearly spent.

One gulp of breath: their season lost to sight,
their naked branches dipped in ice and light.

Carolyn Oliver’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in FIELD, The Shallow Ends, The Greensboro Review, Booth, Gulf Stream, Lunch Ticket, Frontier Poetry, and elsewhere. A graduate of The Ohio State University and Boston University, she lives in Massachusetts with her family. Links to more of her writing can be found at