The Christmas Cactus Blooms: A Poem

by | Original Poetry, The Poetry Deck | 3 comments

It was late autumn, just after Thanksgiving, when I began
seeing you. I suppose I should say we began
seeing each other. 

My therapist tells me I should try
focusing on others.

You were kind
and you had a smile that lit up the room
and you reminded me of my dad
and when I asked my therapist if that was bad
she told me Freud had been disproved
and that I didn’t have to worry.

So I didn’t worry.

But when you told me you had a gift for me,
on our second date,
when we walked along the bridge in the first snow
of winter, I almost ran away from you. A part of me was afraid
you’d gotten me a ring, 
or a bracelet like one of my exes, or some other
typical thing.

But when we got to your front porch, you went inside
and came back and produced a cactus. I held
the little pot in my hand on my subway ride home.
You’d wanted to kiss me,
but I hadn’t let you.

The next day I wrote poetry in my room.

My heart was like a cactus,
but you didn’t seem to mind. Through the weeks
of bitter-cold December you poked and pried
and tried to peel and loose the spines. At last
I let you kiss me and then, alone, I cried. 

I waited for the Christmas cactus to wither
and die.

Instead it began to flourish. The week before Christmas,
when I took the train to your house and showed up
unannounced, it developed a bud. I stood on the porch
and knocked on the door and held my heart in my throat,
sure you were entertaining someone new inside.

But you came out in flannel pajamas,
holding a bowl of popcorn. “Come on in,” you said,
a quizzical light in your eyes. “I was just watching — “

I stayed the night. You slept on the couch.
In the morning, you drove me to church. 
Hesitated and then said, atheist though you were,
you’d accompany me to service. After service
we got lunch together, pizza that burned the roof of my mouth
and bitter coffee that clung to the back of my throat.
We spent twenty-four hours together.

I returned home to find that the Christmas cactus
had flowered. Let it be known: like the Christmas cactus blooms
in midwinter,
even a heart that’s been broken can remember love.
Even a heart of stone can melt again.

a bridge in the snow
the christmas cactus blooms
a snowflake

Poet’s Notes

To celebrate a successful Voyage of the Mind Poetry Day, I posted this poem: one more poem about seasons before my attention turns elsewhere. This one is also about love, of course. I wanted to give a positive message: that broken hearts can learn to love again. 

I’d love to hear what you thought about “The Christmas Cactus Blooms” in the comments. Thank you very much for reading! If you enjoyed this poem, I’d really appreciate if you left me a tip on Ko-fi so I can keep creating as much as possible for you.

people holding hands symbolizing love

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