Outer edges creamy, smooth, white, powdered
as the proverbial baby’s bottom,
then edge inward toward the indelicate
flush of happy pink. So many flowers
hold our memories in their names and hearts —
tales and tears, blessings and blood, gods and griefs.
Daisies are the souls of stillborn children;
lilies, the breastmilk of Hera betrayed.
Hyacinth and larkspur are dark with blood
of those whom gods loved and later wept for.
Iris is Mary’s Sword, and it is said
lily-of-the-valley sprang from her tears,
as well as ladies mantle, spiderwort,
sundew, lagrimas de rosario.
Roses are tears of Venus; asters are
the stardust wept down from the night sky by
the constellation Virgo; and lotus
is the bed of the infant Nefertem
when he cried the tears from which we were formed.
So what is it this flower remembers?
The shading of petals edges inward
toward the indelicate pink, then the throat
is speckled with dark red like sun freckles
or beautiful bloody scabs lacing skin.
The baby boy had been beaten with a
wooden spoon to give him reason to cry.
When his diapers were pulled away, they were
spotted with red flecks like the throat of this
lily, and elsewhere powdered soft and white
like the edges of these petals. Stamens
break forth crusted with ruby-gemmed crystals
of pollen. This flower remembers what
the grownup child has forgotten but still
acts out — that breaking bursting forth over
and over again. Oriental is
place, a style both shy and bold, this lily,
the name given to any star rising
just before the dawn and hiding before
the night. Dawn is budding, morning opens
the flower’s silent memory, and dusk
is the spent and faded bloom fallen down
beneath the leaves, thrown away like a rag.
Sometime in 2004-2005, I believe.