They were on clearance,
shelved alongside the first, unwelcome
Christmas baubles —
bulbs of a different nature.

By then
the yard was scraped raw,
the trees nude and forlorn
but I bought them,
knowing the look I’d get,
the ribbing about the blackness of my thumb,
and knelt in earth
not yet frozen, but soon,
blotting my knees with decay.
Because that box
felt like hope.

Now, everyone inside is ailing:

Hers a plague of uncertainty, lost confidence,
the bewilderment of her own ripening body —

The other’s, more dire,
the malady harder to define
or find,
but manifesting in small, bloodied hatch marks
on thighs, screamed refusals and uneaten pills.

And the little one,
cheeks fevered and crusted – a spring cold? –
wears a rime of snot,
looking like the sort of child
whose mother I would judge.

The bed judders,
my husband’s cough violent,
(Away at something? No. Stop that.)

Outside, a silent rush of sugars
roils in that river-rich soil,
as onion-peel tunics are cast off
and coronas made ready.

I wait withheld breath
for those blooms, those children of my ache,
to conquer the surface,
to trumpet skyward their cups and spill
whatever it is I’ve been waiting for,
for frilly, wind-bobbed heads to nod:
yes yes yes, this will all be fine.