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Planting Tulips

ISSUE:  Summer 2005

They bend into each other’s stamens, tendrils leaning, sucking and bulging,
calyx swaying in blade, lamina, burning under a trusted sun.

Cottage Tulips, Single Earlies, Double Earlies, Darwins, Parrots.
Plant them in the fall to see their torsos rise in spring.

Their butter, their purple, their blood.

In Holland, they bloom everywhere, behind colonials, across pools of wheat,
near prints of wolves—

in 1635, for one bulb, a seller received two loads of wheat, four oxen,
eight pigs, twelve sheep, two hogsheads of wine, four barrels of beer,

two barrels of butter, one-thousand pounds of cheese, a suit of clothes,
and a bed.

The bed in the Orange County model home looks out the window onto fields
of cabbage, radish, chrysanthemums.

The bodiless meadow populates with brick and beam.

They’re already all sold out, grappling for light through mulch and bulge,
the casita option, loft option, granite option.

We could barely get through the door.

If you plant the bulbs before the winter begins, they will be the first
to bloom in your neighborhood.

Pick Single Earlies or Double Earlies and the bulbs will burst open
like drunk parachutes.

They tend to live only a year. Sometimes if you plant the bulbs deeper,
they might bloom longer.

But mostly they die each year. They forget how to turn away from shade.


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