The Writer's Almanac
by Ricky Ian Gordon
The tulips at that perfect place
crane their necks with liquid grace
like swans who circling, collide
within the lake this vase provides.
They stood like soldiers, stiff, before
as if they had been called to war.
In two days more, when petals fall,
I will entomb them in the hall
with trash; the morning’s coffee grinds,
old newspapers, and lemon rinds.
It’s bitter that such loveliness
should come to this,
could come to this.
But now their purpleness ignites
the room with incandescent lights.
Their stamens reach their yellow tongues
to lick the air into their lungs
through stems attached to whitish manes.
The pistil stains.
And even though there are no bees
about the room for them to please,
I take them in like honey dew-
and buzzing now,
I think of you…
I think of you who bought me these,
I wish you had,
as that might ease the ache
of passing hours.
A love is dying, like these flowers.
"The Tulips" by Ricky Ian Gordon. Used with permission of the poet.