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Cyclamen

Articles: Cyclamen

An overhead view of Cyclamen hederifolium reveals bare stems rising from the soil, topped by pinwheel-like flowers. Photograph by Darlene Marlow

[sidebar]They are fragile, pale apparitions
among stones after the heavy rains,
as if to tell us, “we’re back, you have to take notice.”

Rosy and white like spun sugar wings
about to take off, we let these
tremblings alert us again to possibility.

Shirley Kaufman, Poets Against the War, 2003[/sidebar]

Why are there not more poems about the lovely cyclamen? Emerging in September in my garden on California’s North Coast, the short naked stems of Cyclamen hederifolium rise only a few inches above the soil, topped with delicate pink or white blossoms as if to say “we are stronger than we look.” (The name comes from the Greek kyklos, meaning “circle form,” presumably referring to the reflexed petals that look as though they might take off in flight from the flower’s circular center.) No leaves are visible at this time; they arrive a few weeks later, gradually getting larger and carpeting the ground. The leaves are astonishingly beautiful, ivy-shaped and marb...

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