Monica E. Smith

Monica E. Smith

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Sweet Oleander

Oleander, also called rose bay (Nerium Oleander), assbane and in Persian, kahrzarah, is a lovely and sweet-smelling white, purple or pink flower. The bush on which it grows has leathery lance-shaped leaves and long seed pods. Oleander is a native of India, but is now naturalized in many warm countries. It grows wild along the sides and hollows of ravines in Afghanistan. Ironically, despite its beauty and sweet smell, it is among the most poisonous and deadly of plants.

Lament of a Soldier Son
(for Patrick)

Sadly, it is not the aromatic lavender I remember
That suspends me in this mystifying languor,
But only the sweet, deceptive oleander

As deadly as it is fragrant
That cunningly deceives me into believing
I walk among the flowers of my mother's garden.
Oh, to know such blissful tranquility again!
Here, when I lie, I lie in fear
In parched and withered deserts.
No verdant fields gracefully swaying in the breeze
No mellifluous birdsong awakening me from sleep
No dulcet tones of wind through pine
No misty rains to cool my heated brow
Only longing and ephemeral dreams of home,
And that wicked perfume of wild oleander
Wafting through the unsettling sands of Afghanistan.

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