five red tulips in a white pot III

How can I describe
these whorls that have risen from the soil?
Somewhere between green and blue,
cyan, teal-green…? Or… yes… Persian-green,
this name so apt for the colour of tulip leaves,
that mountain flower
brimming with the poetry
recited by a young man
ten thousand miles from home,
with a smile like an oasis.
I listened to his words,
though they were not spoken for me,
but for someone else
ten thousand miles away.
And now I find them echoed
in these Persian-green whorls.

I went looking at colour charts to find the right word for the colour of the foliage of the tulips I have in a pot on my porch. And Persian-green was a good match. It reminded me of an Iranian student I had in a post-grad class many years ago. One of the tasks was to give a presentation, and I gave the class free-choice of topic. He recited some Persian poetry, and then provided a translation in English. Like a couple of other Iranian students I’ve taught, he had the most extraordinarily beautiful smile. 

I’ve seen tulips growing on a mountainside in Kazakhstan, small yellow ones, tiny compared to the garden princesses bred from their ancestors that we now grow. And they were beautiful in their own right, and in part because they were unexpected. I didn’t know at the time that tulips are native to Iran and central Asia. The name “tulip” is a corruption of the Persian word “toliban”, meaning turban. So Persian-green seems seems very apt.  


Filed under gardening, poem

14 responses to “five red tulips in a white pot III

  1. A fine way to tiptoe into Spring. Wonderful background story, Kate.

  2. Lovely. I particularly like your description of the student.

  3. Lovely description Kate. Especially the student with the two-lips who broke into a smile like an oasis! 🙂

  4. surely
    in flanders field
    they did too piece
    find amongst orange poppies
    of the badges of courage

  5. What a delightful post – both poem and story.

  6. writingwhatnots

    Love this, and always enjoy reading your backgrounds to your writes.

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