In a white crock in the window
I keep a plant alive.
It’s not much to look at,
so many I’ve let die.
This one’s a wallflower most of the time:
two or three green tongues
bend under their own weight.
It blossomed the first Christmas
but never again until this year.
How long has it been? Three years? Five?
Two huge trumpets of coral maroon
streaked with black stretch glorious.
I take its picture like a proud parent
just at its peak, when thick black filaments
push forth brilliant yellow anthers.
This voluptuous exhibition reminds me of women
who married then retired behind façades
of respectable homes until Carnaval.
They put on the silks and brocades they wore
when their parents put them out
for a suitable match to a doge or a count.
Once every three years, or five,
they emerge in venereal splendor
to glow in the sun then withdraw.
Now they hang, my flowers,
not quite withered but tired,
the pollen has dropped, the petals have dried
to translucent wafers of crimson.
I’ll keep this alive and wait
and maybe they’ll come out again.