Flame Tree

In Koudougou, Burkina Faso, flame trees burst into bloom
during the very driest part of the year.

In April, the Flame Tree will always bloom!
When leaves lie scattered on the ground
Like fragments from wine flasks shattered:
It blooms! Look! Look! The scarlet spume
Of blossoms! Why does it bloom this time of year
As though Christ’s Passion lasted here?

O Christ, how dark the pain that spills so red
From every sagging limb and twig
All scarred and gnarled by mankind’s rig.
The stem, the nail that binds the flower
To man’s own nest, man’s sin.
But none can curb the flow that wells from out His vein.
What love or injury, no man can tell
Nor cares. Only the wind frees hazard petals
To flutter in the air and drop on bleeding wings.

1981

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