Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Poetry Tuesday: Now With Bonus Thinkin' Questions Available in a Variety of Strengths


Squash in Blossom

How lush, how loose, the uninhibited squash is.
If ever hearts (and these immoderate leaves
Are vegetable hearts) were worn on sleeves,
The squash's are. In green the squash vine gushes.

The flowers are cornucopias of summer,
Briefly exuberant and cheaply golden.
And if they make a show of being hidden,
Are open promiscuously to every comer.

Let the squash be what it was doomed to be
By the old Gardener with the shrewd green thumb.
Let it expand and sprawl, defenceless, dumb.
But let me be the fiber-disciplined tree

Whose leaf (with something to say in wind) is small,
Reduced to the ingenuity of a green splinter
Sharp to defy or fraternize with winter,
Or if not that, prepared in fall to fall.

--Robert Francis


Bonus Thinkin' Questions:

1. Extra Strength: Do you believe it is better to be the "fiber-disciplined" tree than the sprawling, gushing squash blossom? Do you agree with the author that the squash is doomed by the "Old Gardener?" Do you envy the squash plant, or pity it? The leaf has "something to say in the wind." What are the winds in our lives that cause our leaves to speak? Do you believe the word "wind" has positive or negative connotations?

2) Medium Strength: Do you have any idea how to cook a squash? Do you have a favorite recipe? How does a squash rank in nutritional value?

3) Mild/Low Strength: Who the heck plays Squash, anyway and what's up with those outfits they wear?

4) Minimal/Barely There Strength: "Isn't it weird how whenever you see a "q" there's, like, always a "u" after it?

3 comments:

Brian said...

1)a. The tree and the squash seem to be masculine and feminine metaphors, and the speaker seems rather sexist. He values strength, stability, independence, and the ability to make cool sounds, while seeing the squash as weak -- variable, vulnerable, and dependent on the Gardener. I don't think it's "better" to be one over the other. As it happens, though, I am more like the tree, except less judgmental.

b. The Old Gardener is obviously God. Again, a sexist value judgment.

c. I can't generalize; it would depend on the vegetable in question.

d. The rustling of leaves is a subtle sound not unlike that of an Aeolian harp, so it must be evoked by winds of no small import, like winds of change or winds or war, or, in the case of our macho speaker, maybe winds of your team winning the series, or winds of like if somebody gives you a whole lot of beer and then you drink it.

e. Our rugged sexist individual, the speaker, probably senses wind as a challenge meriting a defiant rattle rather than a muted, nuanced murmur. God, this guy is really starting to get on my nerves.


2. a. Boil in boiling water.
b. Boil in boiling water until done.
c. Pretty high in A and B vitamins, I think. Maybe some C also.

3. Businessmen. Don't they just wear normal athletic gear? Maybe you're thinking of Jai Alai.

4. Scrabble players use qat, qaid, qintar, qindar, qiviut, umiaq, faqir and suq quite quotidianly. Oh, and now they've added "qi," as a variant of "chi" (the life force).

Bossy Betty said...

Brian, Darling! You've given Betty a lot to think about. Please refrain from doing so in the future. I have only so many brain cells...
I did not see this as a sexist poem. I thought instead it had to do with living a disciplined life versus living an exotic, Walt Whitman kind of uninhibited kind of life. I, myself, think I am the fiber-disciplined tree, but I envy the squashes of the world and wish I had the guts to sometimes just BE a squash and stop toeing the line all the time.

2. Your cooking instructions just make that squash sound so yummy!

3. You are absolutely right about squash players. They don's have little outfits like I thought they did. My mistake stems from only knowing one squash player who liked to dress all in white. I think it was a leftover cricket outfit that he just had cut the legs of of.

4. Have you seen the documentary on Scrabble? I can't remember the name of it now, but I think you'd like it!

Brian said...

I did indeed see Word Wars (I had to look up the title, and in doing so found another one I haven't seen called "Scrabylon"), and I've read Word Freak as well. I was heavily into Scrabble a few years ago and got caught up in the madness of memorizing specialized word lists (common 6-letter stems, words with many or few vowels, words with common prefixes like "anti-", "out", "over", etc.). This made me a better player, but I became addicted to playing against the computer, and eventually I lost all interest in playing. Now I just play casually with a few people via Facebook. I can quit any time I want to.