Two for Tuesday: Days Gone By
It’s summer, so
the pink gingham shorts,
the red mower, the neat rows
of clean smelling grass
the sweeping blades.
A dragonfly, black body
big as a finger, will not leave
the mower alone,
loving the sparkle
of scarlet metal,
seeing in even a rusting paint
the shade of a flower.
But I wave him off,
conscious he is
wasting his time,
conscious I am
filling my time
with such small details,
like pink checks,
like this, then that,
like a dragonfly wing
in the sun reflecting
the color of opals,
like all the hours
we leave behind,
but not unloved.
~ Kirsten Dierking
A Poly-Grecian Urn: Wal-Mart, Easter Weekend, 1998
Half-ravished by the first light touch of sun
on winter-languid skin, and air’s slow stir—
ardent, close—across bare limbs, we’ve come
for potting soil, for silver-bladed trowels,
for the brightest daubs of color we can bear
away, pre-blossomed in black plastic flats
of vinca, dianthus, pansies. Months too late
to raise the tulips’ complex pulse, we praise
instead the ready-made, until it takes
the squat shape of this bastard child of Keats.
Maybe we’ve come to this—all that remains,
the pointless simulacrum of a choice:
white or green, it’s plastic either way,
machine-stamped in the hollow shape of loss.
Or is this too much to make of a cardboard nest
of two-part urns, bowls and bases packed
as snug as bullets in a magazine,
arranged for sale in monochromatic stacks,
the scraps of half-truth and cheap beauty rent
to pieces by this dying century?
The two of us are young enough to dream
we’ll make it out alive, somehow escape
the burden of our genes and history
to start again, unstained. From the rotting corpse
of a lion he’d killed, Samson took honey, ate,
and found it sweet, but then slew thirty men
because of it. Like him, we crave the taste
of something drawn from death, but can’t be sure
if fingers drip with syrup or with gore.
Or both. Nothing we touch is innocent.
A block away, pale-bellied leaves, wind-wheeled,
invoke the storm, but just beyond the gate,
my neighbor’s yard’s a fuchsia-tinted peace
of statuary petals, as if the air
were stunned to silence, stillness, by the brute
beauty of a redbud’s blooms. I go inside,
come back to limbs still shaking, stripped of leaf
and blossom, and sidewalks scrawled in a green hand
just clear enough for me to read the truth,
that beauty couldn’t even save itself.
I fill the urn with pansies, purple, white,
and pink, but nothing lives past the first rain,
when water pools around a sodden welt
of storm-pressed flowers. The planter doesn’t drain;
its certitude drowns everything I put
in it. I dump the slop of store-bought loam
and flaccid stems, then cut thin slits to bleed
the water out, and try again, a need
to keep something alive, if nothing more
than these doomed blossoms in a plastic pot.
~ David Robert Books
Music by Julia Stone, “Take Me Home”