“Stealing Lilacs”

It seems that lilac theft is actually a thing. When asked whether or not it’s okay to help yourself to a few blooms, responses to this “floral” dilemma range from indifference to infuriation, with the general consensus being that if the tree has abundant blossoms that are spilling over a fence, then it’s fair game to take a few sprays. If you’ve already been at it this year, hopefully today’s poem will assuage any guilt you may be feeling.

Stealing Lilacs

A guaranteed miracle,
it happens for two weeks each May,
this bounty of riches
where McMansion, trailer,
the humblest driveway
burst with color—pale lavender,
purple, darker plum—
and glorious scent.
This morning a battered station wagon
drew up on my street
and a very fat woman got out
and starting tearing branches 
from my neighbor’s tall old lilac—
grabbing, snapping stems, heaving
armloads of purple sprays
into her beater.
A tangle of kids’ arms and legs
writhed in the car.
I almost opened the screen door 
to say something,
but couldn’t begrudge her theft,
or the impulse
to steal such beauty.
Just this once,
there is enough for everyone.

Alison Persons

Is is okay to help yourself to your neighbors’ lilacs? I’ll admit to stealing my share over the years. What’s your opinion?

Flowering trees, birds returning, perennial gardens coming back to life – what are some “guaranteed miracles” you look forward to each spring?


“Stealing Lilacs” by Alice N. Persons, from Never Say Never, 2004. Copyrighted material used for educational or therapeutic purposes.

Photo credit: nhhomegmagazine.com


  1. I don’t think you should steal from someone’s driveway, but the side of the road I think is fine. I remember the lilac bushes near the road in the field between our house and Grandma Russo’s house. We were little and picked a bouquet of lilacs for mom only to find out she was allergic to them! She kept them and probably suffered. A true mother’s love. xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sisters, I remember those bushes well. In fact, whenever I stop and smell lilacs today I am transported back to the field where they grew. I also remember giving mom that bouquet – I think it was for Mother’s Day – and how allergic she was to them. I think she finally had to tell us and get rid of them. xo

      Liked by 1 person

  2. According to Thoreau, we are monarch of all we survey. I’m happy to keep my lilacs right where they grow, and I imagine they are too.


    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love lilacs. Do you remember those two huge lilac bushes we used to have in Ashaway? They used to be glorious, though one was eventually overtaken by a bittersweet vine. I’ve been stopping to smell the lilacs on recent walks — and oh so tempted to take some home, but have refrained so far. I, too, plan to plant one in my yard one of these days!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t remember those bushes in Ashaway, but I’m sure, at some level, they contributed to my love of lilacs! Re planting your own bushes, see my above reply to Z. 🙂 I tend to agree with the poet – “there’s enough for everyone.”


  4. I waited impatiently for the next poem – my new addiction. It is as if you came walking with me, Patti. I literally just returned from a stroll. I stopped to admire many lilacs and I smelled at least 3 individual ones. It was tempting, very tempting. I resisted and instead decided to plant my own lilac someday soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a great idea! In the meantime, at least you’ll be in good company if you give into temptation!


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