by Sandy Stark

The Doctor Visits the Prayer Flags

On the first day of the month of March
the doctor visits the prayer flags.
He is interested in their personal history—
what they’re made of, who made them,
how long they’ll last.
Together we note their color, condition,
shape, and likely longevity.

We examine them from a distance,
through the windows that look out to the yard,
the bright flags pinned fast to the line
I tied between two trees near the garden,
still frozen and cold and hard.

On the table between us
the long green stalk of an amaryllis
ends in a single bud that just this morning
has started to open,
its color unfurling within.

The doctor has been out of town.
He says this morning’s snow
reminds him of airports and airplanes,
of arrivals and departures, and time
spent away from home.
We watch the flags fly sideways in the wind.
Call me before you take the flags down,
he says; I’d like to look at them again.

-published in The International
Breast Cancer Research Foundation

newsletter, 2000