Two White Tulips

Canto I

Two white tulips, placed

in two inches of water

in the cup-holder on my dash-panel

for the drive home…

Here in this windshield hothouse

one opens its petals to welcome the sun like a lover.

The other soon hangs limp,

Without will or libido for life.

What a Mystery!

Who can predict

the hidden secrets of twins,

the seeds of divergent fate

within sisters tended by the same hand?

Once home, I transfer them into a bottle,

hoping the flaccid body of one

may awaken in the cool stillness.

But I forget to transfer the water into their vessel!

By morning, both are limp against the glass.

Heart pinched,

accepting responsibility but not defeat,

I add water.

In an hour, one bloom reaches again for the sky.

The other hasn’t stirred:

A tender testament to all the babies who…reconsidered.

…And to the stillborn dreams in every heart.



Canto II

I wrote three stanzas on Two White Tulips,

And though I supposed the story over,

I did not remove the sleeping sister from the vase:

The sight kept the poem alive before me–

a bittersweet nativity,

mythic with all we can not know.

Beneath my cognition, her fragile body full of something—

the sacredness of all things, perhaps,

and more.

The written poem and the live one took strength from incoming praise.

The surviving sister thrived;

the sun’s song filled her full-moon face with Life,

living for two,

but never fully eclipsing the muted mourning dove-song of the silent, still sister.

And as the afternoon progressed,

after the sun had given his best,

As if by will and contagion, she stirred.

Sleeping Beauty awakened.

A late bloomer…

Left to honor the dead and joining the living, at last,

straining her neck like a migrating goose

toward the only destination she knows,

and in the only timing.

And with her stir so many other secrets.

We do not know the treasure waiting within the sleeping ones.

What of the sister in a coma?

Or the sister unwanted in the womb?

Or the sister stigmatized with Down’s Syndrome

even before emerging to light the harsh world with

simplified, infectious enthusiasm?

It gives me pause:

This mystery and miracle so far beyond us,

outside of time.

We mis-define life as animation;

we believe in failure and mistake it for death.

How often do we give up too soon?

…On ourselves, on our sisters, on our “sinners,”

On late bloomers?

On all the elegant Tortoises in a Hare’s world?


Canto III

IMG_0537 - Version 2

Cinco de Mayo
New Mexico

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