for twelve years each lies dormant


Neelakurinji flowers, Munnar kerala, keralatrips_co_in Strobilanthes kunthiana (15)

Dormant flower, the Kurinji


Poem by Rebecca Harrington Edited by Lydia Chain

One petal crept open, and a million joined it,

on the slopes of the Nilgiris — the “blue mountains.”

These peaks are named for the blue-blossomed Kurinji,

India’s most meticulous flowering plant.


For 12 years each lies dormant, bare. Then, like clockwork,

their blooms erupt. For one spring, a floral carpet.

The Muthuras tribes used it to mark the years passed.

How many Kuriniji flowerings old are you?


Kurinji only grow above 6,000 feet.

Living in the Sholas grassland among the clouds,

leopards, tigers and elephants roam within their

branches, keeping them company through the long rest.


The Kurinjimala Sanctuary tries to

defend its 12-square-mile swath of land from harm.

But illegal farms still abound and cattle graze;

growing food trumps protecting the fragile flower.


Tracking each day until a dozen years have passed,

Kurinji blossoms survive through strength in numbers.

So many flowers bud at once they overwhelm —

no animal could ever eat this many seeds.


Yet the past flow’ring may have been the very last.

Habitat destruction could mean no more blue blooms.

No more years to count, no more seeds to save, no more

Kurinji flowering simultaneously.

neelakurinji blooming



<a href=””>Dormant</a&gt;

Published by ahiggins2013

poet, birder, senior citizen, cancer survivor, Catholic sister. Eight books of poetry published: At the Year’s Elbow, Mellen Poetry Press 2000; Scattered Showers in a Clear Sky, Plain View Press 2007; chapbooks: Pick It Up and Read, Finishing Line Press 2008, How the Hand Behaves, Finishing Line Press 2009, Digging for God, Wipf and Stock 2010, Vexed Questions, Aldrich Press 2013, Reconnaissance, Texture Press 2014, and Life List, Finishing Line Press, 2015.

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