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All the Flowers of My Life

Flower Poem

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


Easter Sunday,

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

Upward cupping.


In your showy dress

Ruffles like chiffon in the wind.

Round ranunculus

Sphere of paper unfolding forever

Stalwart acolyte of the sun.

Dahlia burst forth in generous spirit.

She gives

And she gives.

Freesia sends forth its sweet syrup,

Better than anything

You have ever

Smelled before.




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

Ecstatic smell

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.

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