Beautiful Rubbish

My mom used to call it “beautiful rubbish,”

the red-orange flowers from our African Tulip trees,

littering the lawn in the late fall and again in late spring. 

She’d always ask me not to clean them up until

they’d lost their color, turned to a wilted brown.

Every time I see them beginning to come down these days,

I pick them up as quickly as I can, can’t wait

long enough anymore, but as I rake and bag

the nowadays huge loads of fresh blossoms

blanketing the grass like a bed of fiery snow,

I do always think about how she loved them.

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