The Rose of Sharon isn’t really a rose,
but it’s still a flower as real as the name
you whispered in my ear in a voice
rubbed smooth by a thousand hours of midnight and
smoke. The space between real and imagined
is a close as your breath on my cheek.
What is real are your eyes that burn as blue as gas flame
and all that I imagine when I close my own.
The memory of your breasts,
like “the ghost of a rose under dew”
haunts me for months.
This is real:
If I could touch the milk of your skin,
luminous under blacklight,
it would be real as my own.
The fire of your hair enflames my mind
where what is real becomes hotter because it is not
and where the Rose of Sharon blooms over and over and over.
Larry Oakner is the author of several books of poems, including SEX LOVE RELIGION (Blind Tattoo Press) along with the forthcoming chapbook, The Canticles of Private Lucius Swan, (Pen & Anvil Press) as well in Red Eft Review, WINK, The Oddville Press, and many others. Oakner lives in New York.