Napo 16

Ah, yesterday I got too busy.
Monday, we drove back to Houston from the valley and arrived home around midnight. Then, I had a long day of work ahead--office hours, meetings, class, an oral exam.
By the time I got back home, I needed sleep more than I needed poetry.
So, I'm going to put in two writing sessions today. Here's my bounty from session 1, in which I used this as a prompt:

And this was my result:

Night-Blooming Cerise
For Jan Seale

The afternoon descends upon us
Like a tired grackle coming home to roost.
I’m standing in her garden, amazed
At how she can bring color
To this slab of concrete, joy
To the desolate world. It’s spring.
How many springs has she seen
In her time, I wonder. A curious plant
Climbs the brick walls of her home,
Fills the bleak grey with deep green,
The hue of life we all love, the hue
Of photosynthesis that makes the world
Breathable, bearable.

What kind of plant is that? I ask.

Night-blooming cereus, she tells me.
Most days of the year, it’s unremarkable—
A succulent that saves its beauty
In its pocket like a precious coin.

Mockingbirds sing in the distance.
They sing all their lives, especially now,
In spring. Come night, they’ll roost.
Come night, this cereus will open
A single flower, its petals unfolding
like an old woman’s vibrant smile.

She bends to the earth,
Uproots a scion for me to take
In a pot. Just stick it in the soil,
She instructs, and you, too,
Will grow a cactus that blooms
Only for a night, a last hooray of love
To the world before it fades
Into the birdsong of morning.

She grins with more than a smile.

May we all bloom with such beauty
In the evenings of our lives.