Rose of Jericho

Cindy Veach

I’m not sure about this gift. This tangle
of dried roots curled into a fist. This gnarl

I’ve let sit for weeks beside the toaster
and cookbooks on a bed of speckled granite.

What am I waiting for? Online I find
Rose of Jericho prayers and rituals for safe birth,

well-being, warding off the evil eye.
At first I thought I’d buy some white stones,

a porcelain bowl. But I didn’t and I didn’t.
I don’t believe in omens. This still fist

of possibility all wrapped up in itself.
There it sat through the holidays, into the New Year.

Through all the days I’ve been gone. Dormant.
But today, in an inch of water,

out of curiosity, I awakened
the soul of Jericho. Limb by limb it unfolded

and turned moss green. It reminded me
of the northwest, its lush undergrowth,

how twice despite the leaden clouds,
the rain, I found happiness there.

From tumbleweed to lush fern flower,
reversible, repeatable. And what am I

to make of this? Me, this woman who doesn’t
believe. Doesn’t take anything on faith. I won’t

let it rot. I’ll monitor the water level. Keep the mold
at bay. I tend things, but I do not pray.
 

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Hibiscus on the Lake

    The plant saw the beauty of water,
the flowering plant with bright red flowers.
      She told me all about water.
	  

Bending over the water to put on her bottu,
      she saw the beauty of water.

        I watched the loveliness,
            until I fainted.
  Snakes like trees ran through the lake.

    The plant saw the beauty of water,
the flowering plant with bright red flowers.

           The sky saw it all.
           It trembled in fear
      and fell down on the banks.
    Even the sun was scared to look
        from the top of the tree.

  The plant saw the beauty of water,
the flowering plant with bright red flowers.
        She spread out her hair.
          Her bottu fell off.
         The banks shed tears
      and the shore was shaken.

  The plant with bright red flowers,
        bending, still bending
    told me of the beauty of water.

      The hibiscus talked to me.