Each Tuesday evening a few of us gather
in a remote room at the rear of the empty
church to learn and rehearse writing poetry.

The red-haired lady arrives this week,
her left hand cradling an ostrich-sized egg
on a thick green neck curving out of a cup.

Our leader’s gauzy words dissolve
between our glances at the ivory bud
nodding in the middle of our long table.

The benefactor pledges this is the one
night in the year this bud will open—
the cereus bloom. Our voices stay hushed

all through the hour. Night grows heavier,
the bearer still insistent. The rest of us
carefully thank her as we close our notebooks.

Exactly then a bristle springs loose.
The room gasps. One by one
a slender spoke slowly unfurls

until long pearl petals splay
a blossom broad as a china plate,
its perfume dousing us all tipsy,

its wide face daring us—time to unseal,
reveal so much more we’ve bound inside.