A grey and cracked concrete box

half-filled with frozen dirt and drifts of dirty snow.

It must have been a planter, I decide,

though that seems too genteel a term

for this rough and broken nursery.

But against all odds two early stems rise.

And I do not know what they are. Not yet.

Because this planter – and the house to which

it was once tightly cemented – are new, to me.

Quite old, really, and long empty.

But now I’m here,

and both are new to me.



Day by day – or perhaps it’s night by night

the stems build up, cautiously, quietly,

And just a few mornings ago,

as I backed down the drive,

always by that grey box,

I saw their budding had at last begun.

But budding with reserve, ever so slow,

as if they were not sure, not yet agreed

to form full buds, let alone to flower.



Ah, tulips! Of course they would be tulips.

Though just barely. They did not bloom quite right;

With faded colors and missing petals,

the stems too tall and the flowers too small.

Perhaps the bulbs were old or the dirt too thin.



I dug it up and started again.

Old roots pulled out, some fancy soil raked around,

Rows and riots of bold color planted.

With all this fresh life bursting forth above,

I expect people will hardly notice

the broken box below.

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