The Tulips

The Tulips

We bought them at a farmer’s field, so plump
and red—great goblets, plush concavities
which made of content an irrelevancy.
For days we took delight in their post-mortem
magic. What had this red exuberance
to do with death? They anchored down the table,
held center stage, just like an aria,
a swelling note we held against the odds.

But now they start to fall apart, and see,
they deconstruct so cleanly! Diving petals
reveal a pattern on the inner corner,
a three-point wedge of aubergine-black, capped
by arching yellow bands; a stylized print
of itself in little, vector to the ribbed red
flank, which had barely aged. The tiny tulip-
print anticipates its slide to symbol.
The sleekly flattened violet pistils spill
out scarcely any powder. Slim green stalks
with small white crowns stand bare. Abstract.
A Dutch-bobbed slouching flapper of a flower,
so modernist and sleek, a silhouette.
A flower a cartoonist might invent.

I sweep the petals up in great big bunches,
the dustbin blazing; it had never looked better.
But it’s become almost a game. The petals
fall at random—yet they seem to fall
in answer to our conversation, plunging
at key words, thumping downward during our
significant pauses, heard in silences.
Blowsy, lipsticked interlocutors;
drunken smacks, and dried-out goodbye kisses.