Day Lilies

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.