It’s when the tulip loses its cup:
    the petals fall back
          like a skirt raised up,

and the interested are able
    to see the genital stamens,
          the stigma—no, not that,

not the stain of disgrace,
    but the receptive apex
          of the flower’s pistil.

To stare at the apex is to
    observe denuded composure,
          is to meditate on containment

and all that upends it. What trips
    the vaginal tulip, for instance?
          Sibilant snakes? Biblical blame?

What else does one do
    at the golden sunrise of a centerfold,
          but witness?

The stigma of the tulip I inspect
    for this poem is in the shape
          of a cross—no, not that,

of the nailing and gnashing,
    but x-like, or how I prefer my cross:
           in the form of a kiss.