Vase of Pink Tulips

They stand in the corner like uptight guests
who arrive after a long ride on a crowded subway.

Next time I look their heads are down, telling
stories of sad childhoods—the anxious mother

who insisted on training wheels far too long,
the uncle whose hand lingered on a knee.

Only then do they spin off to the dance floor,
their reckless whirling stilled as if caught in a strobe light.

They open up, flaring, pressing against
the glass. “Come!” they beckon the bees.

Flushed, they begin to turn inside out.
Petals curling, falling like slept-in skirts,

exposing the plumbing, their naked stamens
spill yellow dust on the white Formica table.

I sit with them over breakfast, their pink threads
a filigree through thinning fabric. I beg them to stay,

though I know their petals will drop and I will have no choice
but to snap their stems and show them the door.