THE COLEUS ON GOOD FRIDAY by Jennifer Martelli

Member of the mint family, fleshy stemmed,
tough as a fist, and thick. Those bushy hairy leaves
left in the sun turn purple, make a shallow cleft,

a warm labia. God, one gift
would have been enough but he didn’t stop.

Out the window, I can see where the lilies lie

awake under the warm earth in my yard. The roots
of the word coleus: sheath, male part fused tight
into a fat stamen, power to stand,

stamina, and the warp
of an upright loom in ancient Rome.
I should mourn and contemplate the slow death

of a man on a cross this first mild afternoon.
I should water and dust this unwanted gift,
move the tin pot around the room for light.


(quoted line from Rachel Mennies’ “April 18, 2017”)

Photo by Smabs Sputzer, used and adapted under CC.