Sea Lavender

Limonium carolinianum        

 Her territory:

the essence of temporary,

the uncertain, beaten, worn

and ever-moving, ever-changing breath

where sea and moon

exchange their greetings.

 

She thrives,

indeed can only survive

among shore rocks and marsh grasses,

her roots anchored

in soft and spongey sea mud.

The air she breathes is cold and salty.

Her taut, thin stems,

wrapped in seaweed

and the papery remains of crabs,

branch into spikey statements

of tiny blue-gray flowers,

sprays of pale delicacy

that hint at her tough tenderness.

 

She’s weathered a lot of storms,

has many tales to tell.

But she saves them.

And when all the other flowers

are dead or dormant

and it’s winter

and we look for warmth and stories,

there she is,

reminding us

that the tide advances

and the tide recedes,

so send your roots down deep

and hold your head up high.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hibiscus

I pick one flower

a perfectly red hibiscus

place the plucked end in water

hoping it will drink and

stay with me for a while

stay alive though I know

the picking will shorten its time

has already changed its fate

from coquette to languid beauty.

Longevity is hardly the question now.

Perhaps there is no question.

There is only this looking, looking

this small remorse that I have interfered

this sigh for my clumsy human flesh

that steps on grasslings

leaves footprints in pink sand

in mud

picks a hibiscus

and only then remembers

that fate surprises us

picks us from our bush

our limb

so I place this perfect blossom

behind my ear

its bawdy pollen-laden stamen

observing me

from the corner of my eye:

here we go together

stepping out

to see what we can see.

Amaryllis

Sleeping bulbousness

round-hipped and heavy-lidded

layers of elephantine skin and promise

you are the India of flora

a subcontinent unto yourself

silk-red as a sari.

 

Having chosen a pot as round

and windowless as your soul

the gardener

in the dark basement

of winter

tucks you into pillows of earth

and waits

and watches

the invisible egg

of gestation

nestled in dirt

a singular

self-satisfied womb

taking all the time you need

and more

no questions asked.

 

And then

with the attitude of royalty

you present yourself.

 

How could we not

long for you?

 

Comes the carpet

long, slow, green

five runners firm

and impervious.

 

Each scarlet bell

a new surprise:

that such majesty

would visit this windowsill

that such nectar and velvet

of carmine and sap

would know from black

to answer to its name

and lift,

open its arms

and bow

to the applauding sun.