When Flowers Bloom

Straight out of Compton. From the back hills of Tennessee, a Bronx housing project. The crumbling remains of Detroit. From these places, and so many others that would be termed unlikely. 

When a friend gave me the plant, he said I got it for free at Ocean State Job Lots. He had eight plants in bent boxes. 

They were going to throw them away.


Amaryllis, Belladonna Lily, Jersey Lily, Naked lady, Amarillo, Easter Lily, March Lily (due to its propensity to bloom around March in the Western Cape region of South Africa, particularly between the Olifants River Valley to Knysna) from the tribe Amaryllideae, and of which, for many years there was much confusion amongst botanists.


Much confusion, many names, of a tribe and related to, with the appearance of, though not of. 

The only plants I own are succulents – desert plants who can survive long bouts of drought brought on by my poor stewardship. They have become used to my habits, and despite infrequent tending, are somehow thriving. But this plant is a gift, and succulent or not, it can’t be refused.

So I bring it home, put it on a table near my window, remember to give it water, which is pretty miraculous. But then it’s left it to it’s own devices.  I almost forget to notice it.


There is something about the tender green, though, and that it has survived & been liberated from that damaged box. Where it is situated, I see it every time I sit down at my table. The stem seems to be growing towards me. And then, one morning I notice big green buds at the top the stalk.

I find myself examining the buds every morning, watering more diligently, not just that one plant, but all the plants. I place an old ruler in the pot and tie up the stem, which was leaning over the pot’s rim at a precipitous I angle, like an inebriated sailor.

Can something unable to move or speak, hear or touch, alter the world?

I have change my habits with the other plants in my house and they are better off for its presence. This one Amaryllis was headed to the garbage, but it was seen by someone. It was headed toward death in a landfill somewhere, but someone understood that the bent box was circumstance. The amaryllis became a gift to me.

They were going to throw it away, and it bloomed today.


Wildwood Flower, The Carter Family


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