A flower whose dark markings were interpreted as the Greek word aiai an exclamation of grief, and which were fabled 10 have sprung from the blood of Hyacinthus, a youth inadvertently killed by Apollo. OED
My birthday, August the seventeenth
and Maggie gives me purple hyacinths
wrapt in deep purple crepe paper.
I look their name up in the dictionary
they seem too strong to be
I felt so old. Hyacinthus must have
been around the same age. Old enough to have passed through
rejected by lovers
had things and people die on him
seen his own furies and been shocked,
thinking he contained only love. He was learning
that it is impossible to throw off the dark
Deep into the middle of his youth
walking alone on the hill he trespasses
into some god’s sacred olive grove.
The clouds pass over,
Apollo takes a bad aim, that’s all
The young man hoping for a Sign
gets only a terrible pain in the chest
and stumbles, frightening a grass snake.
It is natural that the flowers stained
by his blood become his blood. Their perfume
belonging to his funereal pyre.
Purple is the sound of grief for the youth
whom the light killed by mistake.
It is a very cold morning
there will be an early storm
and in our kitchen the hyacinths are
almost numinous things.
They glow darkly.
Kirsty Sangster is a poet, reviewer and essayist.