by Nancy Castille and Nancy Levan
Thousands of delicate tendrils connect us,
Reach and intertwine,
Silently pulsing forward,
Tiny anchors on our common story.
We tell this story in the words of flowers.
Names our mothers gave us.
Expressing more than words ever can.
The forsythia on the side of the house,
Herald of spring.
My mother holding me in her arms
Pointing at the small yellow flowers.
Forsythia, she said.
I never loved them as my mother did.
Dutiful little soldiers,
You fail to rebel.
My mother liked them anyway.
Flowers always lined the path
Of what we should do next.
Black patent leather shoes
Lilacs, red lipstick, Easter dress,
Bending to the ground to smell the hyacinth.
We wear flowers in the spring.
These are the flowers
Our mothers gave us.
Let us pray.
Oh I wish you could have known my tulips.
My orange salmon tulips
With bright orange red yellow curling petals.
There are times when I think the dahlia is my favorite flower,
Perfect symmetry of design
Mandala spiraling outward
Plentiful and giving.
Beloved sweet pea
I bend to your delicate beauty,
Your fragile colors,
And gentle fragrant blessing.
Magnolia, you give so freely and generously,
Supplicant oblate hands
In your showy dress
Ruffles like chiffon in the wind.
Sphere of paper unfolding forever
Stalwart acolyte of the sun.
Dahlia burst forth in generous spirit.
And she gives.
Freesia sends forth its sweet syrup,
Better than anything
You have ever
Sweetness from your fragrant bells.
Jasmine, like nectar,
Floating in the breeze above you.
You are in a celestial bed
Where jasmine is sovereign.
You dress yourself in boughs of sweet jasmine
Like an ancient wedding dress.
Tuberose, covers me
Drowning the senses.
Plant it in your memory
To grow comfort
When you need it.
Black iridescence of the Japanese beetle on the rose petal
Insects and flowers paired up
In ceaseless partnership
Dark out of light
And back again.
I understand these lessons,
The lessons of the sunshine.
I understand the fire in the lantana,
Lessons of fire and sun.
Lessons of life,
Sweet syrupy life,
Sweet syrupy sun
Showing us color and radiant light,
What they are,
Why they are,
Colors’ almighty dress.
The wave of blue bonnets
Whizzes by at 70 miles an hour
I call my mom
And ask her the name of that one.
Oh look at the blue bonnets
My mother would squeal with delight
As we whizzed by.
Here above the treeline,
The Indian paintbrushes
Stroke of red
The only color in the landscape of white and grey.