Flavor of Roses by Jayne Marek

I meant to choose chocolate, but it was a slow night
At a Middle Eastern restaurant in Paris, and the owner
Chatted with me while his children played near the back wall

Or approached with amber eyes at table height to watch
This strange American off the beaten path, eating
Rice and goat meat, flat bread. The night was mild for winter,

And I suppose windows shone high over this tiny alley
Where the restaurant squeezed between walls. There may
Have been rain. Dessert arrived before I could say “chocolate”

And I didn’t notice, talk flowed, then the owner beamed
As I tasted the soft green custard. It scented my mouth,
Filled my nostrils with familiar aroma. A specialty,

He nodded. Rose petals. I closed my eyes,
Rolled the wrong dessert over my tongue, let it suffuse
My thoughts, at the rickety table, in France, in January,

All of us far from home, the smiling and curious family,
The essence of warm flowers, and me, spending
My last francs on le menu prix fixe.



*Writing and photography take up far too much of Jayne Marek’s time, but every once in a while things click, so she’s not likely to stop.  Her poetry and art photos have appeared in publications such as Flying Island, Camas, Off the Coast, Tipton Poetry Journal, Spillway, Gyroscope, New Mexico Review, Blast Furnace, Gravel, Lantern Journal, and Siren.  She is author of a chapbook Imposition of Form on the Natural World (Finishing Line Press, 2013), co-author of Company of Women:  New and Selected Poems (Chatter House, 2013), and a full-length book due out in December 2016.  Her work has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and she was a finalist for the David Martinson–Meadowhawk Prize.  She recently watched an eagle steal a fish from an otter.