In February, a warm spell
might trigger the brief eruption
of budding, with next the cold snap
searing off those false starts.
With the next warm spell, buds come slow,
hesitant, reluctant, reserved.
What will be a flower armors
itself beneath a thick bract.
“Bract – a leaflike part just below,
protecting an inflorescence.”
See? Inflorescence. Blossoming.
“The time and process of budding
and the unfolding of blossoms.”
The flower grows behind the shield,
cautious and tightly furled. Later,
there will be blooming, there will be,
unfurling, opening, and loose
as laughter. There will be blooming.
After the webinar, we went around the room
saying what we thought it would be that it wasn’t.
Leaving the building, I heard the loud, crackling snaps
of the flag (a hundred yards away?) that had been
limply at half-mast the day before. It rippled
across the grey front of the broken Belltower.
A year before I would have checked it for the time,
still unlearning the habit of decades, listening
for the chimes on the quarter hour, singing
along, looking to the clock as if it still ran.
The wind spins and twists my ID badge on its cords
until they tighten around my neck. Fuzzy bracts
litter the ground and tumble across the sidewalk,
torn from the flower buds, the petals and branches
whipping wildly in three dimensions, tearing loose,
falling, sticking to the damp packed-down dirt until
the ground blooms with tattered pink and white magnolias.