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To a Redbud


When I heard your name,
    I thought lipstick,
cardinal, ketchup, pigeon-blood ruby
,
    something sanguine

even as you flowered "purple/pink,"
    the field guide said
with an air of defeat when, finally,
    I looked you up.

You don't bother with leaves.
    Furred with petals,
you race the wild plum into bloom.
    You cloud the sky.

You're childhood's Horse Heaven Hills
    come back in dream,
dirt painted purple by dawn.
    The Greyhound bus

that no longer runs—again it trundles
    over White Pass,
the only passenger the ghost
    of my mother.

Dead two years, she loves to travel
    so lightly now.
She's puncture vine curled in her seat,
    prickly as ever—

if she still finds Seattle "excessively green,"
    she won't say.
Why am I not there to meet her?
    Even in dream,

the living keep busy, betraying the dead.
    Flowering Judas,
they call you, redbud not red.


Debora Greger

In Darwin's Room
Penguin


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