They call them “forget-me-nots,”
As though anyone who perceives color could
Scrub that shade of blue from retinal cones.
But here among these mountains—
Where only three or four months pass between snows—
You must catch bees’ eyes early and often.
Together with campion,
King’s crown, sky pilot, clover, stonecrop, wallflower,
They quilt tundra; fight winter’s memory.
All these lay low, clasping rock,
With moss, grass, and scrub spruce blending a backdrop,
To offset color, hold soil, nourish elk.
But like one keeping the watch,
Alpine sunflower braces against west winds
Burning bright as lightning in driving rain.
They say its blooms face the east,
To protect their golden discs from violent storms.
But why rise from the frost and crane hoary necks
Toward the rising sun if not every day
Looking for a long-awaited visit
Or coyly expecting resurrection?
Image: Alpine meadow, Rocky Mountain National Park. Larimer County, Colo., July 2022.