Monday, 25 April 2016

Tulips



Tulips - Anne Stevenson 

For my birthday you've brought me tulips.
I want them to fan from a low vase.
This green and white one with a cracked glaze
almost the shape of a bulb looks right.

*

Tulips were bursting from that same pot
on the same day in New York...maybe 1958.
Twenty-five tulips instead of twenty-five candles,
and we dined by tulip light.

*

There is always another war, but
thee tall disciplined redcoats
have lost the battle.
Cut down, shipped alive into exile,
for nearly a week they bleed upright.

*

Two artists: this one, who catches
the incendiary character of tulips
with daring panache.
Now this one, who uses his brush
like hawks' eyesight.

*

When Nerys in her wheelchair painted tulips
they were strawberry-coloured, like her hair.
She gave them a life far longer
than the one life gave her.
When 'nature imitates art', nature
sometimes loses the fight.

*

Old tulips, getting ready to die,
swan on their wondering necks away
from their source in mother water,
obsessed with an airy faith in light.

*

These sad women in mauve - making up for
painted wrinkles with pinker hair -
drunkenly spill themselves over the bar.
Lips, lips, without love or appetite.

*

But look. At the core of each flower,
a black star,
a hope-pod, a love-seed
the seminal colour of night.

(Remembering Nerys Johnson, painter)

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