Minding Rites

by David Yezzi

David Yezzi

This guy I know, a rabbi, Friday nights,
on his way home before sunset in winter,
always stops at a florist or bodega
and buys a bunch of flowers for his wife.

Every week the same, a ritual,
regardless of her mood that morning, fresh
upsets at work, or snarling on the bridge;
he brings her roses wrapped in cellophane.

But isn't there a ring of hokiness
in that? Why should a good man have to show
his devotion? Some things go unspoken;
some things get tested on the real world,

and isn't that the place that matters most?
So when you told me I should bring you flowers,
I joked, "But don't I show my feelings more
in dog walks, diapers, and rewiring lamps?"

The flowers, I learned later, weren't for wooing,
not for affection in long marriage, but
for something seeded even deeper down,
through frost heaves, and which might be, roughly, peace.

(It's funny that I just assumed romance.)
Now there's no peace with us. I wonder what
they might have meant to you, those simple tokens,
holding in sight what no rite can grow back.

Last updated January 14, 2019