A Gift of Bougainvillea Blossoms

This latest gift weighs dark,
heavy as a low cloud drooping with rain.
The leafy bracts are creased sharp.
The colors run wound-red to bruise-purple.

I hold the blossoms in my outstretched hand,
searching for words tattooed upon the petals,
assaying for flattery, criticism, blame—
measuring this gift against others of its kind.

I refuse to bring the flowers close or find
their scent. Acceptance might unbalance me,
dispel the bitter taste of iron upon my tongue.
I have spent years perfecting my response

but I am tired. Death is taking form,
drumming her fingers upon my chest.
My hand trembles. I let go and am
astonished when the bougainvillea float

softly to the ground, light as hummingbird wings.
They are flowers, nothing more, exquisite
and fragile for a second. I pick one up,
and cradle the blossom in the palms of my hands.

Artist’s Statement
“A Gift of Bougainvillea Blossoms” emerged as a meditation on the Buddhist concept of letting go of attachment to material things, beliefs, and destructive emotions. Too often we remember experiences and interpret events in ways that are toxic, and we hold on to our perceptions despite the damage such clinging causes us and those close to us. If we can change our view, open to other possibilities, learn to let go, we are surprised by how quickly these things, emotions, and preconceptions lose their power to cause us harm.

Cindy Buchanan received a BA in English and a teaching degree from Gonzaga University. She attends poetry classes at Hugo House in Seattle, WA and is a member of a monthly poetry writing group. Her work has been published in Tipton Poetry Journal, Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, Straight Forward Poetry, Whistling Shade, and is upcoming in Evening Street Review, The MacGuffin, and Rabid Oak. She grew up in Alaska, lives in Seattle, and is a runner and avid hiker with a deep interest in Buddhist philosophy and Zen meditation practice. Cindy has completed the Camino de Santiago in Spain, the Coast to Coast Walk in England, and the Milford Walking Track in New Zealand.