I want to post some photos of my garden, and thought about what poem to go with it. Theodore Roethke was the great poet of gardens, his father ran a nursery. This one came to mind, earthy, slightly menacing.
Florist’s Root Cellar
Nothing would sleep in that cellar, dank as a ditch,
Bulbs broke out of boxes hunting for chinks in the dark,
Shoots dangled and drooped,
Lolling obscenely from mildewed crates,
Hung down long yellow evil necks, like tropical snakes.
And what a congress of stinks!— Roots ripe as old bait,
Pulpy stems, rank, silo-rich,
Leaf-mold, manure, lime, piled against slippery planks.
Nothing would give up life:
Even the dirt kept breathing a small breath.
And here are the photos, not menacing at all.
I was at a wedding this weekend, and had to choose a poem to read. I chose Cantatrice, by Berryman, but this was in the running till the last day:
For What Binds Us
There are names for what binds us:
strong forces, weak forces.
Look around, you can see them:
the skin that forms in a half-empty cup,
nails rusting into the places they join,
joints dovetailed on their own weight.
The way things stay so solidly
wherever they’ve been set down—
and gravity, scientists say, is weak.
And see how the flesh grows back
across a wound, with a great vehemence,
than the simple, untested surface before. Continue reading “The other wedding poem” →
The Epiphyllum, an air plant, blooms once a year. The rest of the year it’s dull, flat brownish green. When it blooms, the whole garden glows.
One year, while auditing a class on prosody, I wrote a cinquain about it:
Bee in the Epiphyllun
slabs of cactus
they flame up, these giant
scentless siren calls. Even I
This poem by William Carlos Williams is new to me, arriving in my email from the American Academy of Poets. I like it especially because of the last lines, which I might be in myself. And I like this very dorky picture of him, too.
A Love Song
I lie here thinking of you:—
the stain of love
is upon the world!
Yellow, yellow, yellow
it eats into the leaves,
smears with saffron
the horned branches that lean
against a smooth purple sky! Continue reading “From the wine-red selvage of the west…” →