Gabriel Welsch

Pressing Business

Trees leaf out—roses and lilacs
sequin with buds. Smooth tense skins
tighten like a promise. We’ll break them down.
We’ll press them, force them flat
for a record. Press them within the pages
of an unabridged dictionary, the RHS
encyclopedia of gardening. Let them feel
the weight of the language we have heaped
upon them. The weight is heavy indeed:
philosophy, the bible, a dictionary,
a Rookwood pot—terra cotta, urn-shaped,
paperbacks stuffed inside, the weight
of more learning and cultural import
to crush the color of a tulip flat, a tulip
that had come a long time down to this,
pushed in a towel in a dictionary under a pot,
this blossom of Dutch monarchs, this Mercedes
of mercantilism, this blossom to kill a king for, this
delicate gem of no facets. We write the tags,
take their names and learn them,
speak them in our home, teach their curves
to our tongue and teeth, feel
language work even here, simply by its
accumulated weight. In this way,
syllables blossom, the names lose
their context of weeds, keep the color
slipped from the sun.

Gabriel Welsch
Pressing Business was first published in Chautauqua Literary Journal, vol. 1, no. 1, 2004.
Poem, copyright © 2004 by Gabriel Welsch
Appearing on From the Fishouse with permission
Audio file, copyright © 2005, From the Fishouse