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  • Writer's pictureNeuro Logical

Gardenias - Geer Austin

Unashamed, their fragrance smacks me

like an extravagant greeting as I step out of my car

into my parents’ Carolina garden—hedged, abundant, 

Dionysian—and suddenly I’m slow dancing

at a senior prom, tacky decorations overhead,

like a scene from a movie I didn’t see,

or maybe Carrie before the conflagration.

My mother’s beloved camelias, out-of-bloom,

stand like scene fillers, and lofty magnolias suggest

parental authority. I take a selfie in front of

the lavish gardenias and notice in the background

my parents’ neighbor hacking them with garden shears.

When I turn, she apologizes for her theft. Oh please,

who really owns flowers, I say, and she looks at me

as if I am nuts. Maybe she covets punishment—

us demanding she hand over ten cups of sugar

or ordering her to rake our leaves in autumn.

I watch her retreat to her house with an armload

of flowers. What would Carrie do, I muse,

and for a moment I imagine the neighbor’s house afire,

although the scent of the gardenias drifts unabated

and their blooms blaze white in peaceful surrender.


Geer Austin is the author of Cloverleaf, a poetry chapbook (Poets Wear Prada Press). His poetry has appeared in Poet Lore, Fjords Review, Main Street Rag and others. He lives in New York City.

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