A Lilac

I cannot see a lilac without catching out of the corner of my eye
the diaphanous flow of sheer sheeting of the same color.

The folds and waterfall of fabric enveloping my body like the ring of a bell,
smooth against the pop of buds bursting
into three-dimensional triads and quartets of color.

Green hearts gilded with the white patina of many moistured mornings,
a specimen grown gangly and sparse,
cut to the quick before flourishing in fullness once again.

Overtaking its age,
shooting up sprouts all around it,
expanding its perimeter.

It is the harbinger of spring,
of warmer days promised in the perfumed chill.

It is the talisman of youth,
of adventures in grandmother’s garden,
the boundary of Mr. Thompson’s yard,
the backdrop of moments frozen in time.

I cannot smell a lilac without being at once wistful and hopeful.


image from Getty

A Lilac Reflected

The smell of lilacs brings me back.

To times when I awaited its coming bloom as the harbinger of spring; the pregnant buds popping with possibility.

The full bush that marked the property line at my parents’ house, silhouetted by the setting sun, a gorgeous reminder of breaking bonds as it arched toward the ground in riotous bloom.

The fragrance itself traditional and old-fashioned, yet fresh with new life.

Its smell transports me to an airy evening when I wore a gown of the same color and played princess for the night, full of promise and youthful oblivion.

Now it makes me sad.  Longing for the childhood home I left and the life I left behind.

While the memories may be sweet, they make me long for a simpler time and mourn what I’ve lost in attaining this more difficult one.  There are most certainly huge gains I’ve made in this new life; experiences and people I wouldn’t trade for the world.

But I feel fractured.

I don’t know where the split occurred, at what exact point, or if it’s something that can be stitched together.  It boggles me how I can be one thing and another at the same time.


The medicine cabinet above our sink has three mirrored doors, that open in segments, but close to make one “continuous” mirror – except it doesn’t work.  The seams are clearly visible, a disturbance of the image, a change of light seeping through.  If the doors are even slightly ajar, the image is distorted.  My shape changes, my countenance warped.

Is depression not such a mirror?

I can no longer see myself except through this lens.  It filters everything in my life.  The longing for carefree days.  The resentment of the daily obligations of today.  The beauty and joy of life in its many forms.

In some ways, depression has given me a clarity of view I never had.  In others, it has clouded my perception like the fog on a bathroom mirror after a scalding hot shower.

Perhaps one day, I will be able to enjoy the smell of lilacs without a wistful feeling.                            Perhaps one day, I can look in the mirror and see a cohesive image reflected.

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