Friday, April 12, 2013

Poetry Friday: Purple Flowers in a Field

I loved this article about a photographer who sent his friends flower photos. Go ahead, click through and read it. I'll wait.

What's even better than that article is the fact that I, too, have a photographer friend, whose photos I have used to illustrate posts here in the past, and who often sends me flower photos. Today I'd like to share a flower photo and a poem that I wrote about it.

Purple Flowers in a Field, July 19th, 2012

On your way to the bank on a weekday afternoon in July
You see the field of hay bales,
A field where Monet would like to paint away the afternoon,
A field sprinkled with pale purple flowers.
You're in a hurry, and you keep going,
But on your way back to work, you see those purple flowers again and know I'll love them
So you stop.

You turn into a driveway across the road from the field,
Park the car, letting the engine idle while you jump out,
Work your way across the highway as several cars pass.
You have a meeting to get to
But you take pictures with your phone.
You don't like them, so you take some more, moving along the fence row, changing your position,
Ending up on the unpaved road leading into the farm.
You realize you have to go,
Rush back to the car.

During your meeting it rains hard,
Thunder and lightning fill the window.
After work you go to take out your parents' trash,
And then, heading home in the summer evening,
You pass the field again.
It's two hours since you took the photos
And the purple flowers are all gone.
The color is all washed away.

I pore over the photos you send,
Google the flowers:
Ruellia?  Wild petunias?
(Named for Jean Ruel, a botanist who published a treatise
In 1536 in Paris.)
Is that what they are, or something else?
I enlarge them until they are meaningless pixels on my screen,
Pondering Ruel sitting in his study in Paris
Writing about the medicinal uses of flowers
(These may treat headaches, but some varieties are poisonous,
And it might be a different flower anyway).
Ruel was from Soissons,
With its twelfth century cathedral and its hedgerows
Blooming with purple flowers.
In Paris he was the court physician, picking flowers for the king.

As I research,
I suddenly wish I were more like you,
Stopping by the road when you don't have time,
Just to give me pleasure,
Just to preserve a scene that will be gone later that same evening,
Just to send me an email filled with love.
And I wish I were less like me,
Fretting over the details.

On a weekday afternoon in July the flowers of the field
Are clothed like Solomon
And wisdom dictates capturing them
Whether that means drawing them 
And writing about them in Latin,
Gathering them for some future illness,
Painting them like Monet,
Or rushing across the road to take pictures of them with an iPhone. 

You, my friend, like wild petunias
(Or whatever they are),
Make me, simply, happy.
For once I will rest in that.

Ruth, from

Here's today's Poetry Friday roundup.

I've been posting every day for National Poetry Month, and here's what I've offered since last Poetry Friday:
a Natasha Trethewey pantoum on Saturday,
a public poem by Dolores Kendrick from a subway station in Washington D.C. on Sunday,
an account of our family Poetry Night on Monday,
"Desert Places," by Robert Frost on Tuesday,
video performances of three Neil Gaiman poems on Wednesday,
and "Small Moth," by Sarah Lindsay, yesterday.
And, of course, lines from the Progressive Poem, still progressing nicely!


Diane Mayr said...

You, my friend, like wild petunias
(Or whatever they are),
Make me, simply, happy.

What a lovely gift these lines are! The whole poem, actually.

Bridget Magee said...

Lovely, both the poem and the photo. Thanks for sharing. =)

Andromeda Jazmon said...

Yes - that's the attitude we need in cherry blossom season (all year round). I am going to stop the car on the way home today and walk over to that cherry tree...

Doraine said...

I really like the way you meander through this poem with so many side trips before reaching those sweet final lines.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed your poem, and the way it made me pause to feel grateful for friendship and beauty. Thank you.

Linda B said...

Hi Ruth, I loved the 'other' photo/story. Those photos are amazing, & gorgeous. I love your own poem, & think it's lovely to have photos sent from a friend. I am envious... I am fairly sure those flowers are flax (some call it linseed).

Matt Forrest Esenwine said...

Beautiful, Ruth. You blend the narrative with poetic imagery well, and bring us to those final lines so gently. Nicely done!

Robyn Hood Black said...

Lovely, Ruth. Such a beautiful last line, too.