Critiquing Flowers

Poem by Belle Randall

I mention amaryllis to a friend,

who calls them “Gross—a red flocked megaphone,

atop a rigid, unrelated stem.”


My former mother-in-law once plunged headlong

into the trash a big bouquet of pink

petunias—a gift from her next door neighbor at that,


Wrapped in maiden hair and Sunday’s news—

an offering, cradled in the giver’s arms.

“Not indoor flowers,” our hostess said and quickly


Rinsed her hands of them (“The tacky things!”)

little guessing her new daughter too

would prove short-lived and ill-suited, but I confess


I too find fault with flowers—glads—

crossed sword in vases guarding money boxes

outside gymnasium doors, at P.T.A.’s


And church bazaars, wherever card tables

unfold their legs. And what of you? Would you

revise the oriental poppy? Does the sun


Too much turn the sunflower’s head? Is the rose

too wrapped up in herself? Do you prefer

the edible white blossom of the snow pea


To any merely ornamental posie?


American Arts Quarterly, Fall 2012, Volume 29, Number 4