wilted in place, the petals drooped
dried out by the midday sun falling
on the north east corner of my desk

they were leftovers from a retirement
party, big blooms of hydrangea, and other
white flowers, with small spurts of placed purple
in celebratory arrangement
of achievement;
apparently no one told them of floriography
and the meaning of heartlessness

but, regardless of what it means,
or meant,
they came to rest in my workspace
days after the party
for reasons unknown
and for different unknown reasons
I had objected, ultimately relenting,
when a coworker brought them in

over two days though I had become accustomed
to the sight of the slow decay
slowly browning
wrinkles shriveling over the surface
of sex organs and
the faint smell of a florist’s shop
wafting around me

when suddenly as quickly as they came
they went; she came in and said
they were dead
and to be disposed when to me
they still had life left to eke out
in sight
but this time I didn’t object
but thanked her
and returned to work
that went on whether or not they were in
my vicinity

leaving me to think
not about the abundance of white
but the lilac-lavender highlights
and their absence