Horticulture

Sharon H. Nelson

"Horticulture" appears in Mad Women & Crazy Ladies, Sunken Forum, 1983.

Horticulture

Unkempt as tulips after a spring storm,
we huddle, housebound, shamed by our shapes:
bulges, contours, crevices, our shame,
each inch examined and appraised, stung
by the slick tip of fashion's whip
that tames the body as it tunes the mind.

We are
grown
for this:
to learn
our
ugliness.

Decorative, straight-backed things,
we learn the art of forcing:
paperwhites at Christmas, long-stemmed, tall,
the Easter lily on her stalk,
all virginal.

Displayed like hothouse plants,
we turn and bend,
slender as an iris stem.

Underfed,
we glow
bright with fever,
discipline,
take
less and less,
each meal a self-inflicted wound.

Hungry,
we do not
bleed.

Sterile,
we bloom.

Sharon H. Nelson. 15 March 1999.