The lilacs

By Marianne Koluda Hansen

I know
of nothing worse
than when the lilacs are blooming

all year I look forward to it
and if it weren’t for the thought of
how beautiful the world can be
when the lilacs are in flower
I would not make it through
the winter’s sad darkness and cold
I love lilacs
to me they are
some of the most beautiful things in the world

but as soon as
they start to bloom
I suddenly feel afraid
now the time is coming
that I have been looking forward to
for so many months
and how am I going to enjoy it
will I be able to get enough out of
that beautiful but all too short period
when the lilacs are in bloom
I never feel
I am ready
if only they would give me another week

but nature
must follow its laws
and the buds open like popcorn
whether I’m ready or not
as long as the lilacs are in bloom
I play hooky from work
decline all invitations
barricade myself inside my home
with lots of red wine and canned goods
and blackout curtains
don’t willingly go outside
unless it is
absolutely unavoidable
and then preferably only
after darkness sets
with bowed head
and visor and blinders
dark glasses and wide-brimmed hat
in order not to be confronted with
the lilacs’ shameless
putting themselves on display

to avoid inhaling the scent
I hold my breath
and breathe only
when I know there is no danger
for example by trash cans
stinking sewers
and fresh dog poop

when I eventually get the feeling
that it’s about over
I begin carefully to leer
towards where the lilacs are hanging
and my heart leaps with joy
when they are finished, burnt out
brown and limp
now I can breathe again
stand up straight
and lift my gaze
report healthy to work
open my dark curtains
and start getting together with people again

but next year I will
enjoy the lilacs
come out to meet them
and be prepared
so they don’t take me by surprise again
I’m not going to let them
terrorize me
I love lilacs
to me they are
some of the most beautiful things in the world
and I’m already beginning
to look forward
to the next time they bloom

By Marianne Koluda Hansen ©1979 “Sirenerne”
Translated by Michael Goldman