Saturday, November 3, 2012

a flower so crooked & obscure?

i was gonna write something about last week, a list or movie review, but everything seems so trivial compared to what julie turley has been through.

i'm so glad she's okay & blogging again.  i hope she'll share some of the journal she kept during that epic time.

one thing that didn't feel trivial to me this week was "the yellow flower" by william carlos williams.  more and more i realize he's my poetic ancestor, and i owe a lot to his influence.  this is a later poem, and sounds broken--it is broken, actually--look at the lines.  he was a little bit broken

as we all are.

so, in honor of the broken

but still breathing,

a poem:

The Yellow Flower

by William Carlos Williams

What shall I say, because talk I must?
                        That I have found a cure
                                                for the sick?
I have found no cure
                        for the sick       .
                                                but this crooked flower
which only to look upon
                        all men
                                                are cured.  This
is that flower
                        for which all men
                                                sing secretly their hymns
of praise.  This
                        is that sacred

Can this be so?
                        A flower so crooked
                                                and obscure?  It is
a mustard flower
                        and not a mustard flower,
                                                a single spray
topping the deformed stem
                        of fleshy leaves
                                                in this freezing weather
under glass.

An ungainly flower and
                        an unnatural one,
                                                in this climate;  what
can be the reason
                        that it has picked me out
                                                to hold me, openmouthed,
rooted before this window
                        in the cold,
                                                my will
drained from me
                        so that I have only eyes
                                                for these yellow,
twisted petals   .           ?

That the sight,
                        though strange to me,
                                                must be a common one,
is clear:  there are such flowers
                        with such leaves
                                                native to some climate
which they can call
                        their own.

But why the torture
                        and the escape through
                                                the flower?  It is
as if Michelangelo
                        had conceived the subject
                                                of his Slaves from this
-- or might have done so.
                        And did he not make
                                                the marble bloom?  I
am sad
                        as he was sad
                                                in his heroic mood.
But also
                        I have eyes
                                                that are made to see and if
they see ruin for myself
                        and all that I hold
                                                dear, they see
                        through the eyes
                                                and through the lips
and tongue the power
                        to free myself
                                                and speak of it, as
Michelangelo through his hands
            `           had the same, if greater,

Which leaves, to account for,
                        the tortured bodies
the slaves themselves
                                                the tortured body of my flower
which is not a mustard flower at all
                        but some unrecognized
                                                and unearthly flower
for me to naturalize
                        and acclimate
                                                and choose it for my own.

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