To hear the poet read “Day Lilies,” click here.
For six days, full-throated, they praised
the light with speckled tongues and blare
of silence by the porch stair:
honor guard with blazons and trumpets raised
still heralding the steps of those
who have not for years walked here
but who once, pausing, chose
this slope for a throng of lilies:
and hacked with mattock, pitching stones
and clods aside to tamp dense
clumps of bog-soil for new roots to seize.
So lilies tongued the brassy air
and cast it back in the sun’s
wide hearing. So, the pair
who planted the bulbs stood and heard
that clarion silence. We’ve heard it,
standing here toward sunset
as those gaping, burnished corollas poured
their flourish. But the petals have
shriveled, from each crumpled knot
droops a tangle of rough
notes shrunk to a caul of music.
Extend your palms: you could as well
cup sunbeams as pour brim-full
again those absent flowers, or touch the quick
arms of those who bent here, trowel in
hand, and scraped and sifted soil
held in a bed of stone.