Bouquet of Lilies by Susan Middleton

Susan Middleton, a Straw Dog Writers Guild member living in Franklin County, writes poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. She is a co-founder of Slate Roof Press, which published her chapbook, Seed Case of the Heart, in 2007. In 2018 she won first prize in the Beals Prize for Poetry.

Bouquet of Lilies

Because washing chapped
hands many times a day
is bearable
with you beside the sink
to keep me company.

Because you offer
the relish of observation,
the first of your long,
tapered buds opening now,
revealing secrets.
Speckled pink petals
reminiscent of slow-
moving trout. A chorus
of brown-headed stamens.
The tall slender pistil,
a three-headed diva
rising from the center.

Because your beauty
calms me when
I’ve eaten too much news.
And inspires me,
when I’ve hunkered
too long inside,
to go out walking
among your wilder cousins.

Because your growth—
outward not forward,
constant yet invisible—
reminds me that time
is not a marching line,
refusing to let me catch up.
Nor a pit of quicksand
refusing to let me go.
But a widening sphere
of possibilities.

Because, as the sun
streams in, you flourish,
each unfurling blossom
a hand reaching to cup
the whole universe,
even the small world
of my kitchen.
You remind me
a rich life can be lived
even in quarantine.