Red Amaryllis, by Barbara Crooker
I have painted it big enough so that others will see what I see.
A fraction of an inch each day, through the long fall and winter,
this amaryllis bulb encased in wax—no water, no soil—has clawed
its way towards the light. You have been in the hospital since October--
heart attack, stroke, your aorta coming apart—inching your way back.
This smidge of green hope has kept me going. Some days, it didn’t seem
there was any movement, that the sun, in its shroud of clouds,
was not strong enough to coax some growth. I can only talk to you
on the phone; some days, a handful of minutes
is all that you can summon. This phone is so heavy. But now
the cluster of buds on the tip of the stalk begins to open, splits,
cleaves into six parts. Slowly, you gain strength, shuffling
with a walker, climbing four stairs, spooning blended food with your
shaking left hand, the right one clenched in a claw. Returning
in the smallest of increments. Soon each sepal will unfurl its flame,
flagrant as O’Keeffe’s painting, a radiant speaking in tongues.
I did not think you’d come back to me, but here you are, and here
is this flower: a trumpet fanfare, a red convertible, the molten sun.
Our little lives, so brief. But oh, the bloom.
This poem was previously published in SWWIM.
Barbara Crooker is the award-winning author of numerous books of ekphrastic poetry, including Some Glad Morning, The Book of Kells, Gold, and Les Fauves. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize more than fifty times.
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