The Language of Flowers

Cyanotype print by author

speak to me in the waft of
petal stamen language

pollinate my thoughts with
a breath as sweet as the first
warm wind of spring

teach me beauty and brevity
and the easy joy of the moment
the wisdom of leaving a simple
life attached to its roots
I know the ruin of clippers and spades
I know the trauma of transplantation

show me how nature feeds
and restores from season to season
show me lessons planted by the Divine mind
with hope to take seed
and flourish within mine

send me flowers in photographs
rather than vases
leave them be
let them live while their time
is ripe, and then again,
bright ghosts, gracing
my dreams with color
and quietly whispered words

A new series for the month of May! Last year, I set myself a challenge of writing flower-related poems every day during May, and I just realized I never shared any of them here. So, lucky y’all (haha) the time has come to change that! I considered making all new photographs and / or cyanotypes to accompany them, but there just isn’t time, so I’ll share other random flower photos and prints with them instead.

Incidentally, the cyanotype at the top of this post is the cover image for my book The Body Botanic, which you can snag a copy of from Blurb! Botanical poems, botanical cyanotypes, plus the whole collection of body sonnets I’ve written so far.

Thank you, readers, for your time!

Dickinson | One Woman Reads Another

Medium format film pinhole self-portrait (photograph: by author)

It’s a good day for Emily
I sip tea and watch the rain
chin in my hand, like any woman
prone to flights of fancy
and often confined at home
since the spring, our garden has grown
into a tangled beast
untamed and free
nature gone to seed in glorious abandon
unchecked and vivacious as a fertile mind
liberated from the chains of society
sending out generous shoots
nurtured with care
the inside looking out
from the shelter behind panes of glass

Oh how I do love me a rainy day, a cup of tea, a book of Dickinson’s poetry. . . . . Thank you for reading!

The Seven Word Stretch

Mount Blanca (Sisnaajini), Colorado (polaroid photograph by author)

Rolled up and served up
well seasoned, handed over
there’s a sense of fulfillment
in a duty well done

The burning takes place
in an open field, after the rain comes
smoke sends signals to the senses
inner life, come to life

Whatever gets hung from these branches
the birds will peck at, in time
night rodents will investigate
it will keep the insects busy

I stood outside and waited for the shine
They told me it would happen
but it took a lot of patience
a lot of singing, in the interim

Afterward it was right to withdraw
everything curled back, exposing bones
The dry season blew in overnight
something had to break the rhythm

Once they had finished the weaving
the pattern was obvious
it told all the stories we needed
it insulated our legacy

In the end what remained was rich and sweet
a roasted harvest, fit for kings
doled out and shared among us
precious as a secret grown in the dark

Thanks to J.D. Harms for this Saturday Poetry Prompt, “The Fragmentary Prompt” — this one took me a while, including a first attempt with meter and rhyme that I promptly discarded. I asked my daughter for seven random words, and she gave me taco, fire, tree, star, shrivel, blanket, and chocolate; these stanzas are written to those words, in that order. I can’t say why I chose the photo that accompanies it, other than it just kinda leapt into my brain and also it’s a place that takes my breath away.

Nip | Nostalgia Nibbles Most in Autumn

Georgetown, TX | Large format film photograph (photo by author)

That nip in the air is
the little ping of nostalgia is
a tickle in your nose is
the tantalizing aroma of earth is
mingled with wood smoke is
ozoney comfort of rain coming is
a good excuse for baking is
coziness and hominess all rolled into one is
a blanket and slipper socks is
snug as the cat by the fire is
remembering where I left my tea is
the pleasure of a new notebook is
the satisfaction of a well-sharpened pencil is
reason enough to look forward to long drawn out evenings is
the simple pleasure of a few minutes is
a breath of fresh air is
the nip of nostalgia is
a tickle in your heart

Thank you for reading! Who else waits for autumn all year and finds it just as wonderful every time?
This is from my Medium archive, and it’s not necessarily the right time of year for me to be sharing it but I’m going in order, so there ya go. . . . . autumn vibes in late spring!


Enchanted Rock, 35mm film photograph (photo by author)

The stones speak the language we give them
vocabulary imposed with a hammer and a chisel
in their own words
they would be steadfast and silent
we blow them up to make way for our own plans
grind them to gravel to crush
beneath the wheels of our progress
we press them into service
stand upon the steps we carve
and quarrel endlessly
while they watch
impartial as law
firm as justice
silent as equality

I can’t remember what was going on around me at the time I wrote this poem, but I can guess. . . . . Thanks for reading!

In Translation | The Space In Between

Medium format film photo by author

The empty space between two people
where everything gets lost
venom floats in the supercharged atmosphere
of an argument ready to ignite

Words unspoken float in between rooms
fill up vacant seats in cars and restaurants
become the hollow pillow of regret next to you
in the bed while through the open window
lost letters drift falling in fat lazy flakes
that soak in when they melt

I had a thought
for a moment it was right there
on the tip of my tongue but we vacillated
through our languages and it was caught
by a mistimed breath carried away through
a crack in the floor
a well-placed stitch can save nine
but what we once whispered is now gone
lost in the translation

On life and relationships and arguments I wish I hadn’t had. . . . .

Through a Pinhole

Lake Sommerville State Park, TX | Ondu pinhole photo by author

the prick of a pin
opens the darkened chamber
to light — suffices
with a broad embrace
releases the pressure
from obscurity, and softly
focuses the desire to create

what our ancestors knew
we refine, from raw to raw
in matchboxes, beer cans,
tea tins, even books

the lightest touch
with piercing and tape
bridges the divide
flings wide the gate

A little poem for World Pinhole Photography Day! I wrote an article praising the technique on Medium; here’s a link where you can read it. Thanks, readers!

Ideal | On Not Waiting for Perfection

Georgetown, TX | medium format film image by author

They keep Ideal on the top shelf
I stand on my tip toes, I still can’t reach
it takes a stack of chairs, topped with a pile of books
it takes stealth, so they don’t catch me at it
even at the top, it evades my grasp

I push against the cabinet
sweat and shove to knock it down
but it won’t budge
I try throwing things: big, little, light, heavy
Always I miss the mark
I try this for a long time
Someone passes by and laughs
so at last I walk away

Later, I saw Ideal on the street
passing by so close I could have
grabbed on to its coat tails
I noticed chips in its gilded veneer
ragged ends to its fine sleeves

I noticed my view had changed
Ideal walked on without a glance
I turned back to where I was headed
flipped up my collar
kept going my own way

This poem from my Medium archive was a response to Samantha Lazar’s Sky Collection Prompt #18, galvanized by the quote

“If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.”

Margaret Atwood.

Perfection has trolled me my whole life, like a shadow that I don’t want to turn around and face. I try to run away, but it’s always there!

Bask | The Whiskered Exposition of a Verb

The Family Queen | 35mm film photo by author

She flips and flops
a furry sponge soaking up the sun
seeking fiery heat inside or out
maintaining a constant state of roast
inside and out
hot to the touch
pat the pet and watch her glow

This poem was in response to a verb prompt. How about those whiskers? The old girl is 100% pampered, 100% loved, 100% of the time. I’m allergic to cats so this is the first one I’ve had the pleasure to really know, and I’m so thankful for her presence in my life (and house) for the past decade!