The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton
— Inspired by Sylvia Plath's poem "Tulips"
Draped in sullen sheaths of stone,
how could she ever detect the mere fragrance of petals
as they drifted upon coming-spring air?
She was banded in white so thick,
the thaw would not reach her bones
until it was far too late to ever warm them again.
They probed her flesh with pinpricks, promising
they could cure her disease - she knew better, somehow,
understanding that she had become those very symptoms,
the dire illusions of illness, the crawling of fever across her flesh
when night would not leave her in peace, nor day
leave her any quiet to curl into, a fetal ball bereft of survival instincts.
A glass of water, a handful of books
would not give her the desire to just breathe -
that had to come from within her, from someplace deeper
than the shadows whispering her name. Her hands fisted,
fingers turning as pale and knotted as those who came to visit,
but did not stay, or return, once they'd left these silent corridors
filled with empty spaces where personalities once dwelled.
The tulips opened their hungry mouths, their broad, verdant leaves
swallowing sounds of luminous gestures gone astray, sparks flickering
inside her unseeing eyes like bad bulbs closing before a final frost.