I Bring You Flowers

I must have been about seven at the time of this incident. We were on vacation at Big Deep Lake – where we spent a month each year. I was always the first one up. This particular day my attention was drawn to flowers which seemed especially lovely. So I decided to collect a bouquet for the woman in the cabin next to ours – whom I was courting. It didn’t take long to gather together a bunch of flowers that I thought were quite spectacular. They were sure to melt anybody’s heart.

I had to wait a short while until I could hear some rustling around in the cabin next to ours where there was a woman with whom I was somewhat enamored. I didn’t want to wake anybody up. I knocked on the door diffidently but loud enough to be heard by anyone who was already awake. She came to the door and opened it. With an exclamation of horror she grabbed the bouquet from my hand and threw it into the stove. “It’s poison sumac,” she said by way of explanation. It may have been. I don’t know. I never broke out into a rash from it.

She gave me a lecture about not picking any weeds because I didn’t know which ones might be poisonous.

That was it. No thank you for the effort or the thought. No smile. Certainly no kiss. That was the end of my courtship. Whether I was gathering the wrong flowers I didn’t know. But I could see that I was courting the wrong woman.

Much later I wrote a poem about the incident.

I Bring you Flowers

I wandered early, before my family was awake, among the

flowers of my Eden, peopled with salamanders and


I was searching for gifts for my beloved, the woman in

the cabin next to ours.

I was gathering a bouquet of blue and yellow and red


Fragments of a shattered sun that were too numerous

for my counting skills.


For my love.

I was seven.

She forty seven.

A perfect match.

And she, when I presented them to her hoping for a

smile, an exclamation, a kiss even, threw them

in the early morning fiery stove declaring my

gifts to be poison sumac.

Since then I have never returned to my Eden, or only

partly so, as from a distance.

And now World which I love,

For you I gather bouquets.

You mistake my wild gifts.

You who know only what you grow in hothouses,

burn them, and threaten me with fire.


I bring you flowers.

Only that,


Wild, and simple,



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