French whorehouse

for Georgann

Hey. That vine that climbed the trellis
in your Aunt Betty’s backyard, the one
with miniature pink buds that popped
out like teeny nipples each spring,

the one you said smelled like a French
whorehouse—what was that again?
Because it’s climbing over my fence.
Haven’t seen it for several years

but boom! It’s back. I’d know that smell
anywhere, but I can’t for the life of me
remember what it’s called. Some kind
of jasmine? Not the showy white star

jasmine—these are tighter, smaller
blooms—and it’s driving me crazy that
I can’t remember. More crazy that you’re
not here to remind me. Here. I’ll take

a photo, hold the phone to the sky;
maybe you can see it from where you are.
Or better yet, I’ll just go stand by those
blossoms that are like catnip to bees

(yeah, I’m mixing a metaphor—you loved
doing that),

and I’ll inhale deeply and think of you saying,
“Yep, French whorehouse,” as if you knew
firsthand, anticipating my reliable guffaw,
which is perhaps why its name escapes me,

delighting as I do in your perfumed simile.
Tell you what: I’ll park myself by the fence
for as long as it takes for you to drop the name
into my ear, just to hear your voice through

spring sunbeams, basking in the lush,
overpowering sweetness that brings you
to me—pink jasmine, BFF!—so heady I have
to sit down, breathless,

me and my grateful heart.


You can listen to Jan read this poem here.

Photo / Jan Haag

About janishaag

Writer, writing coach, editor
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1 Response to French whorehouse

  1. Gloria Beverage says:

    Thanks for the giggle.

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