Lady of the Supermarket Lilies

Often she’s too stern-mouthed standing in the fluorescent light, lost
in the cutting of stems.

Blame her Slavic background and a yen for meditation.

Long legged in her green apron, green sash
tied at the waist. Her pockets carry bits of glitter and leaf.

She speaks in a mixed accent, wears a black Madonna
necklace strung on pink string.

They ask Hey, flower lady, plant woman, where are you from?

She likes them to guess.

They say Sweden. They say Russia.
Sometimes they say Baby
and she casts down her eyes.

She’s hopeful. She’s a wound,
an island of blooms between
salad bar and canned goods.

She works her prayer—answering the last thirst
of chemical-laden stems, turning their best faces

to the day, its ravenous people.


Leaving a Lover

I am thin rag’s skin being wrung,
lady-of-lily-tongues, other sorrows.

My aunts are praying novenas.

They say I’ll be a miracle, walk
away whole. For they have received roses
on the ninth day and I have heard,
echoing all these years,
Pick up your bed and walk.

Was it Agnes? Her novenas, her botanical teacups,
her pink tile kitchen. In remembrance,
I cut up a tomato, eat it with a bed of rice.

I have two blue glasses of water:
One for each side:
the Other, and the Earth.

I remind myself not to off,
to stay on the planet and learn,

for every night the baby cuts another tooth
and frost hollows my garden,
the dead need digging in.

Agnes is saying, Search your mother’s basement
for my shadowboxed Black Madonna.
Paint a wall pink, nail it up again.


Natalie Solmer is a recent grad from the poetry MFA program at Butler University. She also has a BS in horticulture at Clemson University. She’s been published in Dunes Review and Chicago Quarterly Review. She lives in Indianapolis with her two young sons.

Photo by ProfDEH (Original photograph) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.