We were buying redleaf lettuce and arugula
from the Korean greengrocer to give us a
leg up on outliving, by two to three months,
ourselves, when we spotted the tulips,
yellows, whites, orange-y pinks, and blood reds,
which sit, now, like colors from a crayon box,
in a white Wedgewood notion of a Grecian urn
on the coffee table surrounded by mounds of books—
Wordsworth and The Age of English Romanticism;
Larkin; Lessing; Bettelheim; Berke's Tyranny of Malice:
Character and Culture; a roll of out-sized wooden dice
canted on the Daedalus issue on Eastern Europe—
and, oh, how, with a copper penny dropped in the water
for longevity, the way a drop of gin
brings lilacs back, they arch, penetrating space
vertically like steeples, diagonally like dancers
rising in slow-motion, the stems, tensing with
gulped water, lifting, straightening, yes, craning
up into the darkened living room
as if they were inhabited by the holy ghost,
transmitted by satellite from the squares of Timisoara,
Budapest, Prague, Crakow to small-screen television,
of this rolling away of the stone,
this new thrust away from despots
charged by the ions of Caesar's coin.

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 9 Number 1, on page 55
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