A Tulip in Winter

(for Janice Fitzpatrick)

Your out-of-season hospital tulip still
brightens above its parti-colored foil.

Lacquered in lamplight, its fleshy leafage
could, conceivably, survive this way

a hundred days. A hundred days (imagine
that) to paint out the wallpaper harlequins,

uncane your cane-back rocking chair,
to reclaim your green connection to a place

where flowers such as these are grown
to leave the living less impossibly alone.