Mari L’Esperance

End of Empire

in response to Keiko Mecheri’s fragrance “Ume”

Such abundance wasn’t meant to last—

the fairy queen harbored in her hive

of silks, ripe extravagance of blackberry

and bergamot, night jasmine and mandarin

an intoxicating swoon—such luxuriance

was doomed from the start. Unseen beneath

her honeyed cell, hung with heavy velvet

and brocade, spread the stain of stolen

mahogany and ruin—a dream of plum,

persimmon, lush tumble of peonies

and wisteria quietly bruising at its heart.

Alone in her scented bower, the last candle darkened,

she thought she could hear the whispers of fate

among the exhalations of fainting blossoms.


forthcoming in the anthology The Book of Scented Things, edited by Jehanne Dubrow and Lindsay Lusby, to be published in Fall 2014 by the Literary House Press at Washington College


Mari L’Esperance’s collection The Darkened Temple (2008 University of Nebraska Press) was awarded a Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry. An earlier collection, Begin Here, was awarded a Sarasota Poetry Theatre Press Chapbook Prize. With Tomás Q. Morín, she’s co-edited an anthology of essays, Coming Close: Forty Essays on Philip Levine (2013 Prairie Lights Books / University of Iowa Press).