Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category
The Egret by Mary Oliver
the little fish
and the green
and spotted frogs
the egret’s bamboo legs
from the thin
and polished reeds
at the edge
of the silky world
in their last inch of time,
for an instant,
the white froth
of her shoulders,
and the white scrolls
of her belly,
and the white flame
of her head.
What more can you say
about such wild swimmers?
They were here,
they were silent,
they are gone, having tasted
Therefore I have invented words
with which to stand back
on the weedy shore—
with which to say:
What is this dark death
like a white door?
The ornamental and prairie grasses are reaching their peaks and starting to show their plumes. A few late-blooming hostas are holding court, issuing their intoxicating fragrances, and the Sweet Autumn Clematis is promising a splendid display atop the arbor . . . the days grow shorter and shorter. Bittersweet days of August, these are, and none the more so than today and yesterday, as I snipped the last of the daisies.
Deadheading is always such a painful chore.
A week before the Fourth of July, I fretted, hoping that the daisies would last for the holiday. They did! Now, some six weeks later, they are finally spent. To say they put on a good show, and stayed for an encore performance, would be an understatement. The snip, snip, snipping has finally brought the curtain down on their long performance.
The flower beds are a bit tidier now that the daisies are tamed. There is more to do, however, as we begin the long goodbye to summer. Just for a while, though, I’ll dream again of daisy chains and the sunny centers of my imagination.
Taking the Hands
Taking the hands of someone you love,
You see they are delicate cages . . .
Tiny birds are singing
In the secluded prairies
And in the deep valleys of the hand.
from “Silence in the Snowy Fields” by Robert Bly
William Carlos Williams
Her body is not so white as
anemony petals nor so smooth – nor
so remote a thing. It is a field
of the wild carrot taking
the field by force; the grass
does not raise above it.
Here is no question of whiteness,
at the center of each flower.
Each flower is a hand’s span
of her whiteness. Wherever
his hand has lain there is
a tiny purple blemish. Each part
is a blossom under his touch
to which the fibres of her being
stem one by one, each to its end,
white desire, empty, a single stem,
a cluster, flower by flower,
a pious wish to whiteness gone over -
and they open —
pools of lace,
white and pink —
and all day the black ants climb over them,
boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away
to their dark, underground cities —
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,
the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
their red stems holding
all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,
and there it is again —
beauty the brave, the exemplary,
Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?
Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,
with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
from New And Selected Poems by Mary Oliver
I posted the first verse of this ethereal poem by Mary Oliver when my tree peonies first opened. I wanted to save the rest of the poem for when the herbaceous peonies came out to play – and they have, indeed. They have been frolicking in the front gardens, under the tree peonies, over the ferns, and atop all else that awaits blossoming, and, yes, dear reader, I did “hurry, half-dressed” in my pajamas, enjoying their “honeyed heaviness” enjoying their perfect moments, for they shan’t last long, but, oh, while they are here – what joy they are to behold.
I wait for them to open up; first a tightly wound bud, then the petals pealing away like yarn from a skein, to reveal their true identity. If you have been reading about life on the Cutoff for a few years, you surely know how much I adore tree peonies. If you are new here, waiting for these beauties to open are among my most cherished rites of spring.
These light pink ones opened up yesterday. They were stubborn buds in the morning, but, by late afternoon, they bloomed, filling me with appreciation for their sunny disposition.
From Mary Oliver’s “New and Selected Poems” I found her poem, Peony. The opening lines are perfect.
This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers