Friday, May 12, 2017

Poetry Friday: Bougainvillea

Last week for Poetry Friday Michelle Kogan shared a poem about Mexico that included this phrase: "the red bougainvillea raves."  I've been thinking about that verb choice all week.

This year I am doing a photo-a-day project, and following prompts that I get from Capture Your 365 (here are the May prompts).  It's amusing to me how many of the photos I've taken so far this year have been of bougainvillea.  It's the ultimate tropical plant, thriving through all seasons in a variety of intense colors, rioting over walls and gates and mixing its thorns with the razor wire that tops those walls and gates as well.  There's nothing subtle about it (though there are some paler colors that are a bit more delicate).  It's confident and happy.  It doesn't care whether you're looking or not; it's just busy being beautiful.  Cut it back to a stick, and it returns more luxuriant than ever.  I love it so much, and I aspire to be more like it.

I'm going to share a few bougainvillea photos in this post and then a little bit of information about bougainvillea, and then end with the poem Michelle shared.

According to Wikipedia, "The first European to describe these plants was Philibert Commerçon, a botanist accompanying French Navy admiral and explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville during his voyage of circumnavigation of the Earth, and first published for him by Antoine Laurent de Jussieu in 1789.[2] It is possible that the first European to observe these plants was Jeanne Baré, Commerçon's lover and assistant who was an expert in botany. Because she was not allowed on ship as a woman, she disguised herself as a man in order to make the journey (and thus became the first woman to circumnavigate the globe)."  

What a story!  Has someone written a novel about it?

And here's the poem, set in the Oyamel Forest of Mexico, where the monarch butterflies go in the winter.

Song of the Oyamel

On the other side of this door

You are an oyamel native to the mountains of Mexico

Rising in a cloud forest of sister evergreens
Shedding pollen cones, shedding winged seeds

Our lost wings
                    singly and in pairs.

This is why the monarchs vanish    
Raising sienna-hued colonies longer than my arms

Hibernating in Mexico where it’s hotter in January
                than my front yard, where the red bougainvillea raves

Here's the rest.

Here's a poem I wrote about bougainvillea in January of 2016.

You can find today's roundup here.


Brenda Harsham said...

I also loved Michelle's poem from last week. I love your flamboyant bougainvillea photos, Ruth. They remind me of the blue water of St. Thomas, with its moray eels and parrot fish, just off shore. Haiti must be gorgeous.

Kay said...

I love the brilliant photos of the bougainvillea. It is one of my favorites, but we get too cold here for it to last through the winter. I'm glad to be able to revisit Michelle's poem from last week, too.

Linda B said...

I love your own intro, really a poem, too, Ruth: "it's just busy being beautiful." Fascinating to read some of the history, and I do love seeing bougainvillea when I spend time in the south.

Jane @ Raincity Librarian said...

Funnily enough, the bougainvillea make me think of my mum, who's always lived life her own way, typically in bright, happy colours! She used to embarrass me so much when I was younger - she'd sing to herself, laugh loudly, wear crazy colours and speak her mind - but now I want to be just like her! She always says that life is too long to be miserable - sounds like a bougainvillea spirit to me. :)

michelle kogan said...

Thanks for your rich blog post Ruth, and all the wonderful images of the Bougainvillea too! I think there may be a story or poem there about Jeanne Baré, will have to see, she sounds intriguing . . . I liked your earlier poem about the Bougainvillea and the wire also, there's reason beautiful things often come with protection like roses with thorns.

Mary Lee said...

I want to read (or write!!) the book about Jeanne Bare! I also want to see Bougainvillea someday!

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

How lovely, Ruth. I also enjoyed your bougainvillea poem from last year. So unsettling... but in a good way!

Tabatha said...

Your poem is chock full of goodness, Ruth. Aspiring to be like flowers (solid advice!), the botanist who secretly travelled the world, your own photo-a-day project (that somehow I didn't realize you were doing), and your old poem, which would make a good mentor poem for kids to write about contrasts in conversation. Happy Mother's Day!

Mitchell Linda said...

Every visit with you brings beauty to my life. Thank you for the poem. I love how you piggybacked onto Michelle's work. The link to your poem took me to the Poetry Foundation....the link the "rest" of the poem didn't take me anywhere. Have a good week, Ruth.

Ruth said...

Linda, thanks for your kind words! I just tried the links and they worked for me. I'm not sure what that's about?