The flowers sent here by mistake,
signed with a name that no one knew,
are turning bad. What shall we do?
Our neighbor says they're not for her,
and no one has a birthday near.
We should thank someone for the blunder.
Is one of us having an affair?
At first we laugh, and then we wonder.

The iris was the first to die,
enshrouded in its sickly-sweet
and lingering perfume. The roses
fell one petal at a time,
and now the ferns are turning dry.
The room smells like a funeral,
but there they sit, too much at home,
accusing us of some small crime,
like love forgotten, and we can't
throw out a gift we've never owned.

—Dana Gioia

Rights & Access

From Daily Horoscope, 1986
Graywolf Press, St. Paul, Minn.

Copyright 1986 by Dana Gioia.
All rights reserved.

Reprinted by permission of Graywolf Press, Saint Paul, Minnesota from Daily Horoscope. Copyright 1986 by Dana Gioia. For further permissions information, contact Permissions Department, Graywolf Press, 2402 University Ave., Ste. 203, St Paul, MN 55114.

  • Dana Gioia

    Dana Gioia (1950- ) served as chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts from 2003 to 2008. The author of the seminal essay “Can Poetry Matter?”, Gioia has published four poetry collections, including Pity the Beautiful (Graywolf Press, 2012).