Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Amaryllis by Marne Wilson

A co-worker planted it on a whim
and then abandoned it just as casually.
Now this amaryllis is mine by default.
Time after time, I have watched it
try to create a bloom.

The flower stalk becomes overeager,
growing so quickly that it cannot support itself,
then falling over dead,
a victim of its own success.
After that the bulb lies dormant for a while
until I reluctantly begin to water it again.

But this time is different.
After months without water,
the bulb decides on its own to grow.
I check on it one day and discover vigorous shoots
breaking out of the dry soil.
What can I do but quench its thirst?
But I also ask myself for the first time
exactly what went wrong in the past.

I see that the bulb is planted too shallow,
so that it has no anchor.
I take the plant home and add more soil to the pot
until the bulb is buried up to its neck.
Some say that I will smother it this way,
that bulbs need to get plenty of air.
But I say that my mother
kept her amaryllis for fifty years
and watched it bloom many, many times.
I say that sometimes old ways are best.
I say that I am going to watch it grow.

Marne Wilson lives in Parkersburg, West Virginia. Her poems have most recently appeared in Atlas & Alice, Poetry East, and Oyez Review. She is the author of The Bovine Daycare Center (Finishing Line, 2015).

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