Cyclamen, by Carol V. Davis

Behind the glass of windowpane, wavy
so the plants in the garden appear bloated,
a little drunk, stems lean dangerously to the left.
He paces the narrow nursery aisles,
pauses to choose seedlings.
Never doubts their promise of growth,
trusts in the color photo on the card
atop a plastic stem.
So when the shooting stars of cyclamen burst
white instead of fuchsia, it is a betrayal.
In 3rd grade when he confided
in his friend about a secret crush on a girl
with bangs black as soil.
Everyone in homeroom spotted his initials
planted with hers in the center of a heart,
dug into the splintered wood of his desk.
Next day he pleaded with his mother.
Perhaps his poppy red cheeks a sign of fever;
she wavers; remembering the time she missed
the scarlet fever, guilt racking her for years.
She lets him stay home, burrowed under the sod of his quilt.
He needs that, a chance for new growth to graft.
A spindly limb to sprout on the trunk of the old orange tree.

 

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 14, Issue 2.

Carol V. Davis won the 2007 T.S. Eliot Prize for Into the Arms of Pushkin: Poems of St. Petersburg. Twice a Fulbright scholar in Russia, her work has been read on NPR, Radio Russia. She teaches at Santa Monica College.

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