Karl Shapiro

A Cut Flower

I stand on slenderness all fresh and fair,
I feel root-firmness in the earth far down,
I catch in the wind and loose my scent for bees
That sack my throat for kisses and suck love.
What is the wind that brings thy body over?
Wind, I am beautiful and sick. I long
For rain that strikes and bites like cold and hurts.
Be angry, rain, for dew is kind to me
When I am cool from sleep and take my bath.

Who softens the sweet earth about my feet,
Touches my face so often and brings water?
Where does she go, taller than any sunflower
Over the grass like birds? Has she a root?
These are great animals that kneel to us,
Sent by the sun perhaps to help us grow.
I have seen death. The colors went away,
The petals grasped at nothing and curled tight.
Then the whole head fell off and left the sky.

She tended me and held me by my stalk. 
Yesterday I was well, and then the gleam, 
The thing sharper than frost cut me in half. 
I fainted and was lifted high. I feel 
Waist-deep in rain. My face is dry and drawn. 
My beauty leaks into the glass like rain. 
When first I opened to the sun I thought 
My colors would be parched. Where are my bees? 
Must I die now? Is this a part of life?