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The poet talks about how a flower taught her that it is ok for her son to be different.
As I strolled through the stretches one day
Of a botanical garden, I found suddenly on my way
That unique bunch with its orange and red
Spiked flowers almost towering over my head
And I was reminded of how years ago
We had seen these flowers in a horticulture show.
You were in second grade, if my memory serves me right
Fascinated more by the name than the sight.
‘Red hot poker’ was a beautiful flower, you proclaimed
We snapped a photograph, and of course you named
It your favorite flower, and wrote its name meticulously
For your homework; you spelt out ‘Kniphofia’ carefully
You were so excited, but even when I was apprehensive
I wished you had liked a more conventional alternative
I hate to remember maternal instinct was on target
You returned from school next day, quite upset
For writing something strange you were derided
No one could understand why you had decided
To name a flower that hardly looked like one
To be your favorite, they did not know, my son
Of this plant, in ignorance, they made fun
Of you- over the years, you displayed
Non-conformity to tradition in many different ways
Despite my misgivings, I tried to encourage you
To follow your heart, knowing that was the right thing to do..
Now you live far away and meet me
To my great chagrin, only infrequently
You are wildly successful in your profession
That is unconventional- you followed your passion
Seeing the ‘red hot poker’ today sent me down memory lane
To that first instance when you had suffered pain
For being different in a society that conformity values
That gives you few options from which to choose
I am proud of who you are, and of course
With the flower for a picture I pose
And send it to you instantly, subtexting “Remember?”
You promptly reply, exclaiming ‘Red Hot Poker’!
And then, “It’s still my favorite, and I know, yours too”
I smile to myself, yes, that is true
If not for this flower I might not have realized
My son’s true potential, I might not have advised
Him to stick to his ideas that were different
This flower made me a better parent.
Published here earlier.
Image via Pixabay
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I am a woman, a physician, a mother and an aspiring writer rolled into one.
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