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Collecting flower names    

By Ansie Baird    

Chrysanthemum, I say, letting the name    

Melt on the tongue like toffee.    

Delphinium, hibiscus, hollyhock, these    

words and marigold bundle in my head.    

Their sounds mean more to me than scent    

or hue. I do not need to pluck them from    

the earth, cutting and pruning, placing them    

in vases, to savor their elaborate syllables.

Once long ago a small boy said:    

There are flowers in my yard named    

for your daughter Cynthia. There are?    

I asked, incredulous. Which ones are those?    

For Cynthia, he said, pointing out forsythia,    

its golden boughs gilding the picket fence.    

Whenever since I see forsythia,    

I murmur Cynthia. Oh, there she is.    

Nor do I skip the fragrant hyacinth,    

which sounds a lot to me like ITALIC Hiya Cynth.    

My lucky girl, to be defined by flowers.    

As I sink down in dark these winter days,    

I gather flowers by their vibrant names    

To keep me company within my house:    

laurel, larkspur, trillium, I say out loud.    

Geranium, begonia, columbine. Look,    

they fill and overflow the crystal bowls    

my mother left to me. Abundantly,    

they bow and bend, invisible.    

ANSIE BAIRD will join poet Lisa Wiley in a Just Buffalo Literary Cafe reading at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Center for Inquiry, 1310 Sweet Home Road in Amherst. The poet-in-residence at Buffalo Seminary and a co-editor of Earth's Daughters magazine, her full-length collection of poems "In Advance of All Parting" won the 2009 White Pine Poetry Prize.