Yet Leafless, The Tulip Tree Readies to Flower

The blooms have each waited
inside a small, tight bud all
winter long. Each a sex-nub,
a tender, excitable mound of
tree-flesh rousing to sunlight’s
rub. They’ve begun to swell.
Their catkin shells grow and
glow. Slow slow arousal. Until
the tree shudders into a
thousand outbursts of pink
and cream, each cupping a
clot of pollen’s sticky gold.
Reckless petals fling open
wider—some already
surrendered to the ground.


Image: Photo by Lisa Verena Pape on Unsplash

Paulann Petersen

Paulann Petersen, Oregon Poet Laureate Emerita, has seven full-length books of poetry, most recently One Small Sun, from Salmon Poetry in Ireland. Her poems have appeared in many journals, including Poetry, The New Republic, Prairie Schooner, Willow Springs, Calyx, and the Internet’s Poetry Daily. A Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, she received
the 2006 Holbrook Award from Oregon Literary Arts. In 2013 she was Willamette Writers’ Distinguished Northwest Writer. The Latvian composer Eriks Esenvalds chose a poem from her book The Voluptuary as the lyric for a choral composition that’s now part of the repertoire of the Choir at Trinity College Cambridge.