Tuesday, June 3, 2008
I couldn't find a poem appropriate for my beautiful, poppy photo. As I searched, I outright rejected the sleep/dream/blood poems, because none of these come first to my mind when poppies bloom in my garden. Rarely a poet addresses the winsome nature of these pretty flowers, so I was left with a tiny handful of poems to consider, none of which satisfied. As much as anyone, I enjoy a wallow in the sanguinary and soporific dreams of poppy, but mostly poppies are, to me, a gay flower. Therefore, I've published my picture sans poem.
What poets don't know (and gardeners do!) is that poppies have multiple personalites. Not only are they, at once, sleepy and lively, but also bold in color while fragile in form. Their petals are frail like tissue, and harsh winds may break them apart after the first day. This year, a poppy shattered at my touch. Rain makes the petals droop or fall. They will grow in light shade, but make only small plants and small flowers. If they're too crowded, the same. Poppies are best in the sunshine with only a light breeze.
Of course, once the petals are gone, poppies step forward with an entirely different personality. They become earthy, structural, substantial. Their symmetry expresses itself in the bud, then in their studied manner of unfolding and, also, in the blossom stage, as the photo shows. But it's when the petals are gone, when we're no longer giddy with color, that structure reveals itself as a poppy's most overt feature. Structure, though, is a topic for autumn, maybe winter, blogs. Right now, the poppies are blooming, and they are not sleepy or bloody, just bright and cheerful.
*My Gardening Style* There is actually a bed for poppies only, but they also seed and grow in the paths and in the lettuce, in the chard and with the peppers. If it's pretty, I leave it.
*Dorothy's Poppy Slippers* Not only are they poppy colored, they remind me of the glorious field of poppies where Dorothy and her friends were soothed to sleep by the wicked witch in direct reference to the property of opium, derived from poppies.