Poetry: Dream with Ex-Lover Ending in Red by Babette Cieskowski

By the second pair of lines, the gentle hiding of men in flowers, we were hooked to this poem. Babette Cieskowski’s language blooms in delicate song: the shucked pearls, the blood root, the windowsill—”Dream With Ex-Lover In Red” is a garden of wildflowers all its own.


Dream With Ex-Lover Ending In Red

—Johnson City, TX

Forgive my cultivations, my garden of men.
I’m surrounded by your brothers, by wildflowers,

Matthew, bluebonnet, verbena, Charlie, Adam,
lupine, Michael, bluebell. They’ve shaped you

into my possession, the wilted bouquet
leaning against my windowsill, the calf

chained into tenderness. How sweet the way
your body caved, braced itself as if I were the ocean,

salt mist eroding years of cautious design,
the cities of our youth. Know now that I forgive

you, the sand on your feet, dirt under your nails, her hair
curled around your wrist. Know his newness, his name

—a gift, a present tense. See how his body
softens, colliding in green fields, the youngest

pearl shucked from boyhood’s darkness, how
his mind is shaped from petals, from sisters,

Brittney, geranium, Crystal, spring beauty, bloodroot,
tea parties, porcelain, marigold, primrose—baby brother

dreaming in pink and white. Know the spider lily,
uprooted, my gift to you—its thin roots reaching for the wind.



Babette Cieskowski

Originally from Oahu, Hawaii, Babette Cieskowski has lived in southern Florida, Kitzingen, Germany and Central Texas. She currently lives in Columbus, Ohio. Her poetry has been included in Z Publishing House's Emerging Poets of Ohio book. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Compose, Qu, the minnesota review, Day One, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, The Laurel Review and others.

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