Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Poetry Tuesday: "Poppies" by Sandra McPherson



Poppies

Orange is the single-hearted color. I remember
How I found them in a vein beside the railroad,
A bumble-bee fumbling for a foothold
While the poppies' petals flagged beneath his boot.

I brought three poppies home and two buds still sheathed.
I amputated them above the root. They lived on artlessly
Beside the window for a while, blazing orange, bearing me
No malice. Each four-fanned surface opened

To the light. They were bright as any orange grove.
I watched them day and night stretch open and tuck shut
With no roots to grip, like laboratory frogs' legs twitching
Or like red beheaded hens still hopping on sheer nerves.

On the third afternoon one bud tore off its green glove
And burst out brazen as Baby New Year.
Two other poppies dropped their petals, leaving four
Scribbly yellow streamers on a purple-brimmed and green

Conical cadaver like a New Year's hat.
I'd meant to celebrate with them, but they seemed
So suddenly tired, these aging ladies in crocheted
Shawl leaves. They'd once been golden as the streets

Of heaven, now they were as hollow.
They couldn't pull together for a last good-bye.
I had outlived them and had only their letters to read,
Fallen around the vase, saying they were sorry.


37 comments:

Catherine said...

Poppies are such delicate flowers aren't they? Beautiful words!
xo Catherine

Madi and Mom said...

BB thank you for sharing this lovely poem. Mom loves the color of the poppies too.
Happy Tuesday to you all,
Madi and Mom

Anne Gallagher said...

So beautiful yet so sad at the same time. Thank you Betty.

Mary said...

Lovely poem Betty. I do love poppies too!

Susan in the Boonies said...

Beautiful images!!! Both literally and metaphorically.

Out on the prairie said...

I saw some yesterday, at least a seed packet of them.Lovely shot and nice thoughts. I have heard to sear the ends with a lighter when you bring them in.I would rather sit and enjoy them outdoors.

Leah J. Utas said...

Interesting death/life juxtaposition.

Marlene said...

I actually took the time to read and absorb this one (a totally unnatural feat for moi!) Guess what? I actually kinda dug it, even!!!

Velvet Over Steel said...

Beautiful flower, poem and post, Betty!!!! I can't wait for my poppies to start blooming this Spring!! :-) ~ Coreen xoxo

Dave King said...

This is such a fine poem. I hear echoes of so many other fine poems and poets: Edwin Muir, Seamus Heaney and Yeats among them. I cannot stress to much how much I like this. It is a fine use of narrative.

Baby Sister said...

That was beautiful!! And the picture...perfect. :)

Leanne said...

Awe, sweet poppies. I adore them, and adore this poem of them. So beautiful ... and the photo - a work of art, my dear.

Tracy said...

Poppies are very beautiful, but whenever I hear the word, my mind goes to the Wizard of Oz and Dorothy and her friends running through the field of poppies with the Wicked Witch jeering, 'Poppies, Poppies...'

Donna said...

I REALLY need to learn to grow these beauties!
hughugs

KLZ said...

You always know the best poems. They make me warm or cold inside depending on topic - the poems you pick evoke a very visceral reaction in me.

Linda said...

Lovely photos, Betty, and a beautiful poem to accompany them.

Brian said...

They are very pretty and so is the poem!

Pat Tillett said...

I love poppies! One of the things I love about our state is the profusion of them during spring!

Linda Myers said...

When I lived in California I heard they were illegal to pick. So I never do. They're so glorious in the field! Might want to try growing some from seed for our garden.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

And nice accompanying photos as well!

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

Such vibrant colors - the perfect accompaniment to that poem.
Be well, Betty.
xoRobyn

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Wonderful poem Betty, also the photo of the poppy was beautiful.

Yvonne.

Joey @ Big Teeth and Clouds said...

This has made me too sad to have cut flowers in the house. Poor things.

Old Kitty said...

It's quite a vivid and macabre poem isn't it?? Someone is not a happy soul!!! Oh dear!!! It's beautiful nonetheless - I keep re-reading it!! take care
x

Cheeseboy said...

Awesome poem. Reminds me of the Wizard of Oz.

Pat said...

I love that poem! And your photos are wonderful!

In March the Mexican poppies start to bloom in the desert and on the mountainside.

Jules said...

Orange Poppies, beautiful. The poem was lovely as well. No wonder they can be a drug sort of intoxicating :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Cool Gal said...

Beautiful words for a beautiful flower.

I love your poetry. Wakes up the brain!

Happy Tuesday, Betty.

I'm off to grab your button. Don't know how I missed it!

Ann said...

pretty poem and flower. I wouldn't mind seeing more bright happy flowers like that around here.

Nick Thomas said...

Thought I would just pop(py) in...

Happy Presidents Pets Day - the day after Presidents Day, as I like to call it. In the US, we love our presidents..... pets. See my blog if you’re in the mood for a good ol' irreverent howl.

Daisy said...

Oh my, what a lovely poem. And such an amazingly pretty flower. I really liked this post, Betty. It was good for my soul. Thanks!

LittleSilkDress said...

Beautiful. One of my new favorites, I think.

ds said...

Oh, sad. How ephemeral is life. I don't know this poet; thank you for the introduction!

The Chicken's Consigliere said...

That's nice. Except for the beheaded hen visual. Coulda done without that. Now my throat hurts.

The Empress said...

Oh.

That last line did me in.

What I love about poetry:

thrills on a dime.

Thank you!

CherylK said...

The poppy photos are stunning and I must say the poem is, too. Nice post!

Unknown said...

We try to possess nature.