by Todd Portnowitz
I hung the lavender she bought
on the metal shutters
in the back room of her apartment
with rubber bands and paperclips.
I wasn’t sure if I should trim their grassy roots—
but that was hours ago, the moon’s up now
and, in its light, their silhouettes
look like six witch’s brooms.
She’s asleep in the other room,
drunk after a party.
I like the smell of lavender somewhat more
than I like the smell of jasmine, which is not at all,
and I’ve hung at least sixty stems,
and once they’ve dried the stems can last for years.
There’s more cinnamon to it than I remember
and an earthiness—neither of which remains
in the bars of soap and monogrammed sachets
in the gift shop at Lavender by the Bay,
where she opened her wallet, resolving,
perhaps, to start, from that moment forward,
making home feel more like home.
Todd Portnowitz is recipient of the 2015 Raiziss/de Palchi Fellowship from the Academy of American Poets. His translation of Paolo Valesio's Midnight in Spoleto is forthcoming with Fomite Press, and his translation of Nicola Gardini's Viva il latino with Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. He lives and works in New York, where he co-hosts the writer-translator reading series, Us&Them. Learn more about Todd at: www.toddportnowitz.com.