Thank you, I said to the orchid
When the last blossom folded its mottled white wings
And floated gently down to the counter.
I release you now, I said.
I’d bought the orchid one day soon after my father died.
Looking at it gave me soft comfort,
Made me think of my father the gardener,
Who told me I needed to discipline myself,
To resist the temptation to plant things too close together
So that each plant would have the space it needs to grow.
The orchid bloomed and bloomed.
Then bloomed and bloomed.
Then bloomed again.
And I believed my father somehow had a hand
in all that wild unexpected blooming from a grocery store orchid
And I also believed that when the blooming stopped for good
My heart would break all over again.
The blooms were gone from the green stick-insect stems,
had been gone for a while this time and I felt . . . fine.
So I said I release you now.
You’ve done your job.
I can manage from here.
I lifted my orchid from the counter to take it outside
And give it back whole to the ground
Because from dust to dust
But noticed that another tiny half-hidden bud
Was willing itself to be.
Thank you, I said to my father.