FRENCH FLOWERS

I

At the closed Orangerie Museum,
we lean inside the black umbrella
and imagine the water lilies
imagined and floating,
this rain falling on Giverny's ponds,
breaking the color arranged
only on the water's surface.

II
The nobility sat on this floral couch
at the foot of the queen's bed
to officiate the birth
of any future king or queen,
the way a farmer, might, in his field,
watch the dropped fruit on the grass,
as if to confirm that the branch was too heavy.

III

Dogwoods sprung pink against
sandstone flying buttresses at Notre Dame.
Even beauty falls to memory,
a dark hall, the projector's single zoom of light,
the black and white slide of Notre Dame,
a slow voice saying that, though awkward,
the buttresses permitted a wall
to be both tall and thin.

IV
In the Hall of Mirrors, the chandelier
hangs down low and shiny as iced trees.
The wall of mirrors reflects the wall of windows.
Here they signed the Treaty of Versailles,
and really, who could know,
what rose trellises would be abandoned where,
what cathedrals would die in fire?

V
Every day away I take my picture.
Today I am by a deep-plum tulip bed,
the over-opened blossoms black.
I don't know why I take this one.
I could be anywhere.

Elizabeth Crowell
ELIZABETH CROWELL's poems have appeared in Nimrod, Atlanta Review, Doubletake, previously in Feminist Studies and other publications. Her stories have appeared most recently in New Millennium Writings, Spoon River Poetry, and Blithe House Quarterly.
The Adirondack Review