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Requiem for Red Poinsettias

The green leaves of our poinsettias are back.

The curious plant’s more predisposed color reluctantly began returning one leaf at a time shortly after Christmas Day. I had then thought in passing that that was less than what my mother had bargained for: she had purchased, with some degree of perceptible excitement, ten pots of the most promising (and thus more expensive) red poinsettias from an overpriced wayside garden shop in Tagaytay early last December.

However, what has been for me a little miracle every Christmas season—what with the magic that, without fail and always on schedule, leaves of an otherwise indiscernible plant turn rich red to announce and remind us the coming of what would be the greater miracle—has recently been an indicator of the brevity of our attention and a sign of the transience of happiness.

The red poinsettia’s phenomenal trans-coloration, which I had long ago decided to never Google why so as to guard the few things of which I am still in awe, formally commenced its reversal early this January on the way to its inevitable dis- or re-coloration. I think this time I know why.

Our poinsettias had accurately noticed that the praises we initially would throw on them became fewer and fewer by the end of December. Showing their sulky side and proving that plants have feelings too, they were also quick to point out that the gardener, who had faithfully and tediously propped them up before the night family and friends came in their new dresses to celebrate over wine and hams and cheeses the birth of the Christ, has as of late forgotten an alarming number of times to attend to their required daily allowance of water, sun and sky.

The poinsettias’ anxiety only became worse when they surmised (after patiently waiting for a reasonable amount of time, of course) that their tall mummified friend, which was brought down the basement after being unceremoniously undressed from its gown of sparkling lights and glistening gems and hastily chopped into three equally short pieces, was not coming back anytime soon.

After finding themselves dismissed out of the house (that was the last straw, all concurred), they continue to be snubbed by the stoical bonsai every morning and have been left with no choice but to entertain no longer guests bringing good cheer but the frequent complaints of the blades of grass which are too sensitive for their own good. The red poinsettias began to suspect the end was near: they were lined up against a wall a few days ago to join a rust-crusted trash bin and a worn-out wooden bench that only reminded them of the fate they shared with their once leafy brothers.

Afraid of attracting too much attention or be regarded as out of fashion or last year’s news, more and more green sprouts urgently push their way out of our poinsettias’ branches everyday. Meanwhile, the leaves which have turned dark magenta—once so red, so proud and so merry—in the same regularity disappear when no one would be looking and without even waving goodbye.


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