Another bleak day in Chicago, green
threatening waves on Lake Michigan
and sepulchral black tree branches
along the shore but indoors our vases
burst with cheery flowers: a posy
of white sprigs on the granite kitchen
table-tiny rosebuds, delicate queen
anne’s lace and white dwarf salvia,
yellow frilly daffodil trumpets like
some surreal devolved Australian
lizards on the desk beside me and
red-streaked fragrant star-gazer lilies
on the living room window sill as
potent as the poppies in the field that
put the Oz quartet to sleep.

That humid August in Japan, when
our family passed the Yokohama florist
with eighty dollar orange melons piled
harmoniously outside as well as perfect
Easter lilies, (we gasped at the price)
and decided to buy a huge bunch of lilies
to brighten up our austere vacation
apartment, the four of us tried to
communicate “big bouquet” to
the Japanese florist but he didn’t seem
to understand our gestures.

He would only sell us one stem.