FLORAL TRIBUTES FOR MY VALENTINE Wendy Webb
My sweet is like a red carnation
delivered, full of optimism.
Presenting an upright bunch, it says
‘my heart aches for you.’
I’ll return a scented handkerchief
and narcissus, ‘stay sweet as you are.’
Why did my love send yellow sweet briar?
Now my love-lies-bleeding.
Misreading my sweet bright petals
for yellow: ‘egotism.’
I will not swoon, I’ll return jonquils:
‘love me and return my affection.’
He’ll be mortified his prickly briar
read sadly: ‘love in decline.’
Dare I wear sad forget-me-nots,
or – like the hero – will it sweep him away?
He must be mine, I will remember the vine,
send him ivy ‘Poetica.’
His bunch arrived, but pointed down,
I fainted all that day,
till I read ‘perfected loveliness’
was the message of white camellias.
That evening he sent azaleas,
wrapped around with honeysuckle.
I read him true, blushed white to pink;
his message: ‘save yourself for me.’
He’s climbed my bustle and crinoline form
with ‘generous love and devotion.’
My mother, dear, said ‘Candytuft’
was a suitably prim reply.
‘Indifference,’ indeed, from her maybe;
I sent the sweetest almond.
His retort? Rose, Lord Penzance:
his pert bunch played with me.
My bodice tight, my basque constricts,
could he think my ‘love in decline?’
Giggling, the parlour maid loosened my ties
at my earlier ‘stupidity.’
Symbology was full of thorns,
would our love flower to holding hands?
I stroked cyclamen, gazed wanly abroad in: ‘resignation and goodbye.’
My love sent ‘spirited’ freesia,
pale lilies: ‘pure and sweet.’
Decorated with ‘baby’s breath’
and iris: ‘my compliments.’
My love is mine no longer,
for when I sent a rose: ‘true love,’
the florist arranged it with mignonette:
‘Your qualities surpass your charms.’