Change of pace: a poem

Here’s a poem I wrote this week in response to prompt: consider a flower. Fathom it deeply. Write a poem about becoming congruent.

The Crocus

The flower doesn’t know
that I don’t know anything
about the flower.

Except
that last fall the PTA at Middle School 447
sold bulbs to raise money.
That the purple crocus that came up yesterday
was part of an assortment of lots of bulbs
to grow flowers with names I do not know
because I’ve never put bulbs in a garden before.
I saw the pictures in the fundraising catalog:
the bland little yellow one and
the thrilling little blue one that looks like tiny clusters of grapes
that I recognized: I had seen it before
somewhere in the neighborhood.
They all came in a box that held little bags
on which were printed inscrutable instructions.

Plant three inches deep
and two inches apart
with the point facing…
I don’t remember.

The instructions filled me with doubt.
I told myself these
are not things I know,
are not like a subway map
are not like a computer
are not like bike repair.

These were vague and colloquial, like
an old man chewing something that grew in the earth and holding something to work the earth and wearing the clothes that you wear to work the earth and saying to me
yep.

When I was three,
I ran without clothes
in my grandmother’s summer garden.
She told me
that the purple vine climbing the archway was wisteria,
and the delicate tree with spindly red leaves like old lady hands was a Japanese Maple
and the rhododendrons were the ones lining the walk with their extravagant old-fashioned blooms and smooth sensible oval leaves.
There were some things that my grandmother loved purely, and I knew that as she walked
me through her garden.

Under three inches of scrap-filled New York yard dirt,
the blue cluster of grapes and the purple crocus and the little yellow one
and some big pink ones I think are coming up later in the spring,
did they tell themselves stories of not knowing what was above the dirt? Of struggle
to get there, to push aside gum wrappers and dirty snow piled on top of the
mulch the Parks Department makes from abandoned Christmas trees?
Did they tell each other Grow!? Grow up!

No. They just know
where up is,
and grow the way
they are pointed,
the only way they can
to see the guy
that doesn’t think
he knows
anything.

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