A Natural History of Gifts

It sat on carved linoleum
in an unwell bucket
hiding in the bright store
filled with all the processed cheese.
The dry green ficus was
Cracking its back
to the fluorescent bars of light.

Or whatever. I look for a lack of browning
as if this is important.
The thin plastic card conveys
alarming instructions.

I place it in the back
of my cradled red hatchback
in a January blanket.
I am painfully aware of potholes and
frost. I tell the tree
about her
and the brand-new apartment
I have not yet seen.

Later, we watch the Peoples’ Choice Awards
on her stately plaid couch
as the gifted plant sits
in the corner,
watching all the angles.

I never really went back,
except once, of course.
So I wonder if it stayed
a happy, dusted setpiece
or made its way
to the green treelawn
on a Wednesday
with everyone straining their muscles
to move their own black bags.

A wrist on a forehead and a look down the street:
bottles, boxes, and an entire crate
of Nabisco Entertainment Crackers.
And the brown plant skeleton
with its still, square cells,
clear and transparent.
The ficus, really a fig,
has nothing left to hide.

Or maybe it stayed
after all
like a long, distant spider
always there
in the corner.
Not knowing if it is alive
or dead
You water it

Brad Ricca was born in Cleveland, OH. His first book of poetry, American Mastodon, won the St. Lawrence Book Award and is available now from Black Lawrence Press, Amazon, and a variety of other places. He has had poems published in The Kerf, The Coe Review, 6ix, The White Pelican Review, Luna Negra, Caesura, Monkeyspank, Black Dirt, and Albatross, among others. He has a website at americanmastodon and tweets @BradJRicca but doesn't really know why.

© Copyright Brad Ricca 2012