The Florist's at Midnight

The Florist's at Midnight

Stems bleed into water
loosening their sugars
into the dark,

clouding dank water
stood in zinc buckets
at the back of the shop.

All night the chill air
is humid with breath.
Pools of it mist

from the dark mouths
of blooms,
from the agape

of the last arum lily -
as a snow-white wax shawl
curls round its throat

cloaking the slim yellow tongue,
with its promise of pollen,
solitary, alert.

Packed buckets
of tulips, of lilies, of dahlias
spill down from tiered shelving

nailed to the wall.
Lifted at dawn,
torn up from their roots

then cloistered in cellophane,
they are cargoed across continents
to fade far from home.

How still they are
now everyone has gone,
rain printing the tarmac

the streetlights
in pieces
on the floor.


'The Florist's at Midnight' from The Florist's at Midnight (Jonathan Cape, 2001), © Sarah Maguire 2001, used by permission of the author.

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1Vigil

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2Almost the Equinox

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3Cow Parsley, Bluebells

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4The Grass Church at Dilston Grove

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5The Fracture Clinic

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6The Invisible Mender

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7My Father's Piano

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8The Hearing Cure

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9Tidemarks

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10Traveling Northward

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11May Day, 1986

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12Wolves Are Massing on the Steppes of Kazakhstan

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13From Dublin to Ramallah

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14Zaata

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15The Pomegranates of Kandahar

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16The Florist's at Midnight

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17The Mist Bench

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18Year-Round Chrysanthemums

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19My Grafting Knife

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20The Tree Bank at Ten

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21Cotton Boll

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22Europe

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23Mahbouba Zaidi’s Hands

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24Hibiscus

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25Damascene

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26Cloves and Oranges

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27Jasmine in Yemen

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28Rosemary

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29The Jardin des Plantes

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30Proof

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31Psoriasis

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32Dust

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33Spilt Milk

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