The Amaryllis
Ann Lauinger

The Amaryllis

“Not guaranteed to bloom a second year”
Means “Don’t complain.” But see the ambiguity?
Not “Guaranteed not to bloom”: that would be clear.
You would have tended to it just like me:
Watered it, sunned it, checked for pests and disease,
And brought it inside well before its leaves,
Long drooping spears, got nipped by autumn freeze.

The anniversary of its splendor came
And went. I watered faithfully, I fed,
Without a hope of blooms. The only claim
It had on me was memory—the red,
Wide-mouthed clangor of its bells last year,
And weather mean enough to make a friend
Of anything that chanced to be in here.

I grew to think of it as a great-aunt
Subsisting on sweetened tea in my spare room,
All but forgotten—no trouble, but someone you can’t
Evict. In May, a bulge I dared not assume
Would bud shot up, parting its oval case.
Some grief relaxed its spiky jaws and fled,
Unlooked-for scarlet giving brilliant chase.

Ann Lauinger

has written two books of poetry: Persuasions of Fall (University of Utah Press, 2004), winner of the Agha Shahid Ali Prize in Poetry, and Against Butterflies (Little Red Tree Publishing, 2013). Her poems have appeared in The Georgia Review, The Southern Poetry Review, and other journals and have been anthologized or featured in The Bedford Introduction to Literature, Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and Martha Stewart Living Radio. A member of the literature faculty at Sarah Lawrence College, she serves on the Advisory Committee of Slapering Hol Press and lives in Ossining, New York.