Fully occupied with growing—that's the amaryllis. Growing especially at night: it would take only a bit more patience than I've got to sit keeping watch with it till daylight; the naked eye could register every hour's increase in height. Like a child against a barn door, proudly topping each year's achievement, steadily up goes each green stem, smooth, matte, traces of reddish purple at the base, and almost imperceptible vertical ridges running the length of them: Two robust stems from each bulb, sometimes with sturdy leaves for company, elegant sweeps of blade with rounded points. Aloft, the gravid buds, shiny with fullness. One morning—and so soon!—the first flower has opened when you wake. Or you catch it poised in a single, brief moment of hesitation. Next day, another, shy at first like a foal, even a third, a fourth, carried triumphantly at the summit of those strong columns, and each a Juno, calm in brilliance, a maiden giantess in modest splendor. If humans could be that intensely whole, undistracted, unhurried, swift from sheer unswerving impetus! If we could blossom out of ourselves, giving nothing imperfect, withholding nothing!
Denise Levertov - 1923-1997
In California During the Gulf War
Among the blight-killed eucalypts, among trees and bushes rusted by Christmas frosts, the yards and hillsides exhausted by five years of drought, certain airy white blossoms punctually reappeared, and dense clusters of pale pink, dark pink— a delicate abundance. They seemed like guests arriving joyfully on the accustomed festival day, unaware of the year's events, not perceiving the sackcloth others were wearing. To some of us, the dejected landscape consorted well with our shame and bitterness. Skies ever-blue, daily sunshine, disgusted us like smile-buttons. Yet the blossoms, clinging to thin branches more lightly than birds alert for flight, lifted the sunken heart even against its will. But not as symbols of hope: they were flimsy as our resistance to the crimes committed —again, again—in our name; and yes, they return, year after year, and yes, they briefly shone with serene joy over against the dark glare of evil days. They are, and their presence is quietness ineffable—and the bombings are, were, no doubt will be; that quiet, that huge cacophany simultaneous. No promise was being accorded, the blossoms were not doves, there was no rainbow. And when it was claimed the war had ended, it had not ended.