They Brought Flowers

“Scientists discover Neanderthal skeleton that hints at flower burial”

The Guardian, 18 February 2020


At first—for a long time, actually—

they brought flowers, talked to me

from my graveside, said they missed

me and all of that, and they were

sincere, I think, but then one day

I noticed that their visits had stopped.

Why, I don’t know, the view from here

being rather limited. Maybe some

cataclysm wiped them out at once,

all the Neanderthals, though we never

thought of ourselves that way, of course;

we were just people like everyone else.

Or maybe some ferocious predators

devoured our village, or maybe it was

a slower phenomenon, gradually

dying out from natural causes

until no one who knew me was left—

it’s so hard to gauge the time. Perhaps

they just evolved and lost interest,

or maybe a long cold spell killed

off the flowers so that there was

nothing to bring and no point in coming.

It did get lonely after a while, though,

what with never going out and never

having visitors, and the options are

limited for eternal souls separated

from their bodies before they had

religions to misdirect them. Anyway,

another day, another eternity, it doesn’t

really matter, or at least it didn’t until

I heard the scrape of tools, steel ones,

modern, not the old-school implements

I used when I walked above ground.

Have my people returned, better equipped,

I wonder, or have curious strangers

come to pay their awkward respects?

Either way, I hope they’ve brought

flowers, because I have missed the flowers.


Copyright 2020

T. Allen Culpepper


Pink Azaleas

The pink azaleas fade the fastest,

their festive petals turning a nasty brown.

All year they’ve waited for their glory moment,

the sudden burst of bloom that makes them

special among the other shrubs,

but their faces once revealed begin to crumple

and decay, so that within in a week

they’re like aging drag queens

holding out for one last show

before saying goodbye to the stage.


Copyright 2019

T. Allen Culpepper