flower shop

 flower shop
to N. & her daughter
Ulaanbaatar 2004, edited 2014

Flower shop
Further along that avenue…. with acknowledgements to Kenji Kitayama on Flickr for use of this image

that flower shop
at that corner of the
avenue flowers in
coloured buckets of
water stood before
dirty glass windows
not a shop for
exclusive shoppers
but anyone simply
in that dusty town
who needed flowers
for whatever purpose
flowers had, in night-clubs
gifted across beer-spilt
tables or laid in a
hand girlish for
that moment
at the door,
the sole flower
shop of that
dull stretch
of avenue
at that shop
she told me
we’d meet
and she waited
there i found
the place the
only one looking
up and down those
streets she told
me walking how
she waited for her
mother there who
worked inside among
those flowers behind
the dusty glass she
waited her mother
in gladness as glad
as a flower drinking
in water her mother’s
hands must have
smelt of pollen of
brown paper her
mother who died
so young and left
her to a step-father
and soon step-mother
she told me how
she’d even come here
years after to smell
the flowers in buckets
and recall that fine
woman, the singer, the
woman who taught her
the russian word for everything
she put into her hand the woman
who was singing in the yurt and
a child she saw through that
opened flap at the apex
the snowed in peaks of
the altai those legendary
mountains that smote
asia apart from europe,
she’d remember her,
her mother, kneeling at
the bucket looking
at the flowers
settled with dust.

i’m sure she’d told
told her own daughter
of this shrine she’d
make of coloured buckets
and flowers for a face
not shown there,
a daughter who
who goes remembering
past that corner now
how her mother waited
for her mother there and
she pauses there fresh
in age and thinks of
her mother who would
run to the ends of the
earth for her, of everything
that happened to her mother
as much as she knew her
and finds maybe kneeling
at those same buckets
in a dusty wind
and i too have to hold
her mother and her mother
both in mind and
not spill a drop
for a flower needs
every bit of water
in such a place
every drop
of her, of ‘she’
who i once
called ‘you’.

Copyright © 2017 Peter Le Baige. All Rights Reserved

Click on the link above to hear a reading of the poem.  The accompanying music is from the opening of the Adagio movement of Piano Concerto No. 1 in D by Johannes Brahms interpreted here in a 2021 recording by András Schiff and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

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