On Jasmine by Kate O’Connor

Poet name: On Jasmine Poem title: Kate O’Connor Poem: The boys stand at the Hamra intersection and hold out hands wrapped in stringed blossoms, picked and braided by quick fingers  into chains that hang on skinny arms. One boy, Ali, sticks his head  through the driver's window  and we grab two necklaces of the fullest flowers. We press folded bills into his palm and hang the jasmine on the rearview mirror  letting it drop soft honeyed particles on the dash as we turn sharp corners. Breath of sweet rotting black berries, white petals and clumps of low hanging bushes  dust us with pure pollen. Once home, we lift the chains off the mirror  and at night, we drink jasmine tea, steeped by the buds Mom picked up from Yasseen's store  this afternoon. Dad doesn't believe  in eating flowers so I drink his tea for him, gulping down petals,  choking on their perfume. We all sleep in the same bed  and wake up before the light. The gunshots are louder today,  and before breakfast, mom prays for Ali as we sit at the kitchen table, heads bowed over bowls of thick labneh. We stay inside. We play Monopoly. We watch the gentle edges  of the petals curl brown. Next week we return to the Hamra intersection,  bills folded in our fists, eyes searching for the head of black hair  belonging to Ali, refusing other boys who jam their hands through  our car windows. We wait for a long time. We go home and pick  jasmine ourselves pilfered from our neighbor's bush. We try to string the blossoms into chains, crushing the flimsy petals between our graceless fingers. We drink jasmine tea at night, but too bitter, we pour the rest down the sink,  buds forgotten in the bottom of our mugs. End of poem.  Credits: Copyright © Kate O'Connor Kate O’Connor is from Victoria, BC but she has lived in five countries - England, Lebanon, Tunisia, Canada and the US. Her experiences living in different cultures greatly affects her poetry and the way she views the world.