Lavender Elegy

for Amelia, June 1883

When my sister married the boy
I loved, I held her close; I could see
she was a bud waiting to burst, so I cupped
her betrayal in the palm of my heart waiting
on her remorse to explode in a chaos
of perfume and petals.

I was wrong of course.

Later, she told me how the two of them
had made love the first time in the shed
where our father kept chickens, its silvered
boards worn smooth on the outside by years
of weather and wind.

Racing through twilight, the three of us holding hands,
laughing, our soles scuffed, scraped by stones from the dirt road,
we ran along the bank of reeds by the river, and collapsed,
breathless, to roll and sigh in the just settled dark. We three
had always been close, so my sister’s chagrin was well-founded.
It was no matter: I was as sure of her as I was my own eyes.
When fever, the body’s interior heat, engulfed the twin deltas
of my optic nerves, and blazed the wall of my sight, she read to me,
her fingers smoothing the words each time she moved from one slice
of page to the next while I dug my nails into the flesh of my palms,
waiting for him to arrive.

The place where my sister and lover played house
leaned as if it were holding its breath against falling,
the silly beasts inside, well-feathered and fed, murmuring,
clucking their find indignation while I pressed my back
against its rough boards, tracing the white crescents on each hand.

It is all no matter, for I have
Always been able to see
color by closing my eyes:
the scent of celery and dill,
a moist yellow-green;
hot summer wind—pale tangerine;
bird cry rises blue. Forgiveness is violet,
crushed by the weight of regret.

This evening the scent of lilac floats and gathers, looming like lanterns
in the dusk above beyond the front porch: mother inside, chopping mint
for the next day’s tea; father at work; and Amelia reading, her voice
an indigo knife.

About the Author
Trish Annese’s short story received an honorable mention in Glimmer Train’s Short Fiction Contest. Her work has recently been published or is forthcoming in Caliban Magazine, COG Magazine, Five on the Fifth, Hawaii Pacific Review, Santa Fe Writers Project, and The Virginia Normal. Trish has attended and led many writing workshops and seminars over the years, and has studied with Robin Hemley, Laurie Alberts, Abby Frucht, and Xu Xi. She holds a BA in English Literature from SUNY Buffalo and an MFA in fiction from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She has worked as an English instructor for over twenty years, and was also a creative writing instructor in the SummerWrite program at the Writers & Books Literary Center in Rochester, NY.