This morning the adverts in my inbox were ‘dedicated to women in honour of International Women’s Day’…
International Women’s Day
The tip of the stem’s cut flat,
dry as the end of a pencil,
petals the pink of document wallets,
square, no longer in bud,
the type that will brown
before it yawns wide open.
Handed to me by a blonde ponytail
striding across the road
and for a moment I thought
I was an object of spontaneous pity,
until I remembered a dry concrete campus
outside Chengdu, where students
once gave me a corporate red rose
to celebrate this day, and now
the tradition’s brought to London,
but this rose is flagging. Its leaves flop
despite the air saturated with drizzle
and I can’t warm my hands
because I’m holding a rose.
I think about cutting a route
past parliament so I can get rid of it
at Pankhurst’s black bronze feet,
or taking it home and waiting
for my boyfriend to ask who it’s from.
The rain is starting to pick up
and the Garden Museum does cheap tea
but perhaps they’ll think I’ve stolen it.
A plastic banner on the railings
says: Potato Day – Here Sunday.
This poem is included in Soon Every House Will Have One.