A Boy and His Flower
Once there was a class of schoolboys in a course on Botany,
Led by Mr. Rose, the scholar, who knew every plant and tree.
"Class," he said, "you've got a paper that you must complete by May,
"And since today is April first, I think we should begin today.
"For this paper, boys," he lectured, "you will need to find a weed
"Or shrub, or vine, or flower - they will all do very well, indeed.
"Next, nurture your plant at length and take some notes for your outline,
"Noting things like what it takes to make it healthy, strong, and fine.
"Then in May, research complete, you'll get one chance for you to teach;
"All bring your plants, and for the class, you'll give us all your final speech."
He cleared his throat. "Be quiet class! Get in a line to go outside.
"For just today, you've my permission --- search the forest far and wide.
"Find your subject, show it to me; let me know which plant you choose.
"If I approve, and you can use it, that's the plant you have to use.
"I guess that's all," the old man grinned. "At least for now, there's nothing more."
And just then every boy went yelling, trampling out the school's front door.
Thundering down the green, Spring meadow, underneath a sky of blue,
Some chose the sloping trails to mossy groves where toadstool mushrooms grew.
Other headed toward the forest, filled with leaves and growing mold,
And one lad, Sean, went skipping off to sunny spots of yellow-gold.
He reached a veldt of clover specked with daisies growing creamy-white,
And turning, down the hill he spied a flower much more fair and bright.
Upon a mound of soft, black peat its graceful stem stood slim and tall,
Its luscious petals, glistening gold: the hue leaves turn in early Fall.
Its hub was bronze and thick with pollen, russet-colored, deep and brown,
And Sean, his grin full-wide, then stooped to touch the flower he had found.
His fingers gently brushed its petals and its leaves of velvet black,
And suddenly it faintly stirred and all its leaves caressed him back.
His heart was racing and he sat there smiling very glad and still,
But then to his dismay, he heard his classmates laughing on the hill.
Freckled Fred, and older boy, sneered, "Look here, guys, what Sean has found!"
"A stupid flower," smirked his brother Ned; a fat boy, plump and round.
"What a sissy," yelled another, when he saw what Sean had chose.
He laughed, but turned in swift surprise, as down the hill stormed Mr. Rose.
"Quiet! What is going on?" he shouted, growing red and mad.
But then he saw the kneeling boy, and gestured, "Sean, come here, my lad.
"Your flower is quite beautiful, but you're too young and too unwise.
"You'd kill it! I have seen too many bad - defeated - worthless tries.
"Come, pick another," said the teacher, patting Sean upon the head,
And Sean then lied and said he'd choose the jimson weed instead.
The school day done, their choices made, they ran to catch their rides for home,
But Sean watched everyone ascend the hill and stayed there all alone.
Feeling quite dejected, Sean then muttered, "Saturday I'll start!
"I'll make this little flower grow. They'll see," he vowed straight from the heart.
He too turned to leave, but glanced once more to where his flower stood.
He wanted much to prove them wrong. He smiled because he knew he would.
As he said, that weekend came, and on that first, bright Saturday,
He woke and ate his cereal and told his mom, "I'm going to play!"
He grabbed a spade and bag of mulch; the things he'd need to start his chore,
And took the watering can and made his exit out the back, screen-door.
All that day, 'til dinnertime, he dug and pruned and fertilized;
Oblivious to everything, just working, almost hypnotized.
But when the sun was setting and he knew he'd start for home,
He stepped back once to look and saw already that his flower'd grown.
Then quite unexpectedly, its stem bent toward him in the breeze.
Its petals wide and waving as it touched, then brushed him on the knees.
Every feeling Sean then felt was more than strange, but very new;
He truly felt he loved the little flower --- and it loved him too.
He sighed then, for he had to leave, and up the hill he slowly walked,
And seeing this, the many flowers all drew close and loudly talked.
"Violet," said the daisy, "did I tell you? He's a little boy!
"He'll surely make her wilt --- or worse --- abuse her like he would a toy!"
"And ... it's just not proper!" said the lilac, very prim and proud.
"One's age is most important," yelled the pansy, just as shrill and loud.
And all along the little flower heard them and she shed a tear,
For she still loved the little boy, and would not turn her love to fear.
So, every day, just as before, Sean came to watch his flower grow,
Just sitting there with pen and paper, gathering all there was to know.
And after dinner, he would holler, "Dad, I'm going to the store!"
But sneak off on his bike to prune his flower up a little more.
Like so, he spent the rainy weeks 'til May dawned brightly with the sun,
And just as quickly came the day for all to show what they had done.
Bustling bright and eager, everyone burst in the science room;
Some feeling proud of what they'd done, and others feeling dread and gloom.
One by one then, Mr. Rose called students up to give their speech,
And always lucky, freckled Fred was picked out first to stand and teach.
"I thought this would be easy, but somehow, somewhere, something went wrong."
And he produced a shriveled daisy, dry and brown, and thin and long.
Up next was Ned, his brother, with a violet. "Well, here's what I think:
"My flowers wilted up because I gave it far too much to drink."
"Mine is not much better," said the next, and Mr. Rose agreed.
He called off every name, then: "Sean O'Brien and his jimson weed."
Sean rose very gingerly and picked his way up to the front.
He stood there looking timid, but then spoke to them both loud and blunt.
"My plant," said Sean, "just needed time, and food, and drink, and care,
"And someone to help shield it from the pouring rain and chilly air.
"But, sir, I must confess. I didn't do the plant I said I would.
"You said I couldn't make it grow," he sniffed, "but, sir, I knew I could."
"What!? I want to know what you have done. My boy, this is the worst!
"You did not do the plant you chose? What have you done since April first?"
Sean then bowed his head and gulped, "My plant is out there in the hall.
"I didn't think you'd want it here --- it's very nearly five feet tall."
Suddenly the teacher coughed, and Sean went shuffling out the door.
He coughed again when Sean then pulled the potted plant across the floor.
It towered well above the heads of every boy, in splendid air.
They dropped their plants upon the floor, and with their teacher, simply stared.
Then, quite unexpectedly, the flower's trunk bowed to the boy;
Wrapping him beneath its velvet leaves until he laughed for joy.
"Incredible," gasped Mr. Rose. Apologizing, "Sorry, lad.
"I truly thought you were too young, and things would only turn out bad."
"That's all right, Mr. Rose, I guess sometimes not everyone can see.
"In fact, I think the only ones who really knew were her and me."
Needless to say, Sean got an 'A' for his effort and success,
And that goes without mentioning his love, delight, and happiness.
And Mr. Rose's Botany class learned something very, very deep;
A lesson they would hold as dear, and hopefully would someday keep:
'A lack of age or wisdom should not turn sweet love to sour,
Yet maybe all are blind to this save one boy and his flower!'