Emma Lee – It’s just a bunch of flowers

Emma Lee LEP&W Sept-Oct V1 2022

Download PDF Here Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume One Sept-October 2022. 

It’s just a bunch of flowers, poems by Emma Lee


It’s just a bunch of flowers

John Everett Millais’ painting of Ophelia adds a red poppy,
signifying death, to Shakespeare’s daisies, violets, rosemary and pansies.

She finds them on the doorstep: no card.
A bouquet of daisies for innocence and purity.
As they fade, another is left, courier delivery.
This time a blank, white virgin card.
Her friends laugh: the flowers are lovely,
perhaps the card’s blank because he’s shy?

The next is of daisies and pansies, white and regal.
Friends think they’re unusual and beautiful.
She takes them to work and leaves them behind.
‘Thinking of you,’ the card smooth as a stone.
Going home, keys in hand, she checks she’s alone.

Colleagues smile: a mysterious admirer.
The bouquet changes, violets make it bigger.
‘These are only for you’ typed on a calm
sepia. She buys a video doorbell to go with the alarm.

She keeps the curtains closed. Begins to lose track of time.
The next includes rosemary. ‘In remembrance’
She phones the police to be told it’s not a crime.

Dead flowers invade her dreams and fail to revive
her. She shrinks, only goes to work, eats to survive.

The next has the addition of a red poppy.


He looks at her the way I wanted him to look at me

Bertha Antoinette Rochester, née Mason

I go to look at her. What does he see?
She’s pale, skinny, sharp-eyed, prim.
But he looks. He looks past me at her.
He looks through me to her. It’s trickery.
It’s as if I’m in a thick surround like a hurricane glass.
Am I that damage? Can I create such destruction?
What can I not feel? I waver like a flame.
She darts him looks. He wants to touch,
to lift the glass and touch her light within.
I’m snuffed out, a shadow in a white dress.
Ghost. Ghostly I shuffle. I go to look at her.
The one he hovers around, touching her space,
her outline, inhaling her scent, his dream of her.
A vessel for his hope to be a husband.
I see the white dress he bought her, the long veil.
It shrouds me. She thinks she will wear it.
He will touch her where he rejected me.
I will be witness. I wear this so they won’t see me.
There’s a shriek. It’s not mine. He will darken her.
She’s awake, not watching but rising.
My hands flutter. I hear ripping. It will not be hers.
I’ve torn my veil. My flame will burn.


Unhelpful Captions: Speaking a foreign language

Translation is not considered important.
More troubling is the lack of transcript.
It implies those who struggle to hear
only follow one language,
and are not trusted to understand another,
yet are already bilingual.
Who programmed the subtitles?


© Emma Lee

Emma Lee’s publications include “The Significance of a Dress” (Arachne, 2020) and “Ghosts in the Desert” (IDP, 2015). She co-edited “Over Land, Over Sea,” (Five Leaves, 2015), was Reviews Editor for The Blue Nib, reviews for magazines and blogs at http://emmalee1.wordpress.com

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