My Mother and the Lilacs

Their purple meant
spring. “That whole
apartment was
lilacs,” she glows,
retelling how
the one she
couldn’t marry
but checks for
in phone books
fifty years,
surprised her
with orchid
and snow. She
wishes for a yard,
for daughters
who will plant
lilacs that
bloom, not just
stunted twigs
shadowed by pine.
Unlike card games,
where the one
with nothing wins,
what never bloomed
haunts the most.

—Lyn Lifshin, Vienna, VA