"Lilacs"

A weekly poem, read by the author.
June 26 2007 7:06 AM

"Lilacs"

Click here to listen to Peter Campion read this poem.

It used to burn, especially in spring: the sense that life was happening elsewhere.

Smudged afternoons when lilacs leaked their smell
past schoolyard brick, whole plotlines seemed to twist

just out of reach. Inside the facing houses
chamber on networked chamber rose … to what?

Some angel chorus flowing around the sun?
Some lurid fuck? ... For years that huge desire

simmered, then somehow ... didn't dissipate
so much as fuse itself to thought and touch.

This May, our life is here, a branching center.
Freeways and cellular towers and the blue

avenues at dusk with their scuttle and blur.
They all, if just for seconds, fall away.

You stand in purple shade beside your dresser.
And filtering off the park the breeze returns it:

lilac: its astringent sweetness, circling us
as if it were fulfillment of desire.

But not fulfillment. Just the distance here
between us, petaled, stippling to the touch.

Peter Campion is the author of two collections of poems, Other People (2005) and The Lions (2009) both from the University of Chicago Press. He teaches in the M.F.A. program in creative writing at the University of Minnesota.

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