The crushed violets in your drenched hand
smell of nothing, the ionone numbs the senses –
Like ghosts they cannot wither, being as they are
already gone into some nervy hinterland.
Josephine, you called me, the shadow on my breast
blue like a bruise or a bird’s wing, or something
chemical . The more you called, the less I thrived
as though the name were not freely given
but stolen from another’s face, a mask.
Such wasted flowers I did not ask for
reappear from time to time but never linger
Now I keep my hair pinned tight
to stop it winding
round your finger.
Veronica Aldous from my book Mortal