Marigolds

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marigolds
all the dark there is
to displace

grief
I try to detach
my shadow

waiting
to be disinterred
new-planted
marigolds

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19 thoughts on “Marigolds

  1. Marigolds astonishes me with the brevity and simplicity of how it intertwines abundance and loss, the presence of shadow in the midst of it all. Form and feeling so beautifully accomplished, Melissa.

    (Just my 2 cents: I found the colors extravagant, unnecessary, and distracting, thereby weakening a poem that already possesses a wondrous layering of forms — haiku, haiku sequence, and concrete poetry. Inform, please, if you feel so inclined. With thanks, Donna)

    • Thanks so much, Donna. I appreciate your thoughtful and eloquent comments.

      I went back and forth on whether I wanted to attach an explanatory note to this because I knew I would probably get questions such as yours about the colors. But I wanted to see what people would make of the poem(s) without my dictating it to them.

      Mark is on the right track. There are actually seven haiku in this sequence. Some of them a lot better than others. 🙂 I wrote it so that it would be possible to read any three sequential lines in the poem as (more or less) a haiku, and wanted to find typographical ways of distinguishing them all. I’m open to suggestions about other ways of doing that, or comments on the desirability of doing it at all.

  2. marigolds are survivors, aren’t they? Beautiful, and as strong as weeds; often used at the ends of vineyard rows and such to keep away rabbits and deer. Small splashes of color. Cheerful in a small way. Hope they are to you.

  3. Alegria Imperial says:

    Seven? I read them back and forth and there could be more–I read nine, so far. Your ‘new way of doing it’ is exciting, Melissa! It reflects what I’ve always said about ‘haiku truths’ being infinitesimal bits of the same. The vertical structure you used here can be broken into other forms, like lines that float on space or leaves plastered on grass. Thank you for your ever ‘busy’ mind!

    And by the way, amazing that you paired marigolds with grief. In our culture, we make crosses of marigolds for our departed, sticking them with dried coconut palm ribs to fresh banana stalks cut and tied together in the shape of a cross.

    grief
    my shadow waiting
    new-planted marigolds

    waiting
    to displace grief
    marigolds

    • Oh, well, these lines are all so vague you could probably throw any three of them together in whatever order and get something you can read as a haiku, if you’re so inclined. 🙂

      That’s fascinating about your culture associating grief with marigolds! I’m not sure where I came up with this idea. I think it was just the contrast between the bright marigolds and the black earth…What a wonderful combination, marigolds, coconut palm, banana stalks. Now I want to go to the Philippines…

    • I have indeed. (Or rather, I’ve read [most of] the individual chapbooks …) I’m sure john was an influence here. I am getting more and more interested in working on a larger canvas while still not abandoning the form and focus of haiku.

      • you are fortunate indeed. As for larger canvasses, haiku collected in a book, sliced very fine or linked or not, are somehow changed aren’t they? Resonances created by more information, juxtapostions, overtones, context…

        • Yes, that’s true, Mark. One of the many projects I have on my to-do list for this summer is to try to pull together a small collection of my work whose selection and arrangement will yield such resonances. I don’t know yet whether I actually have a body of work that will submit to such treatment but it seems worth trying.

    • Thanks for the kind words. I don’t think I read Donna’s comment on the colors as criticism so much as feedback. I’d had similar thoughts myself. I consider anything I post here to be open to thoughtful commentary, whether positive or negative…pretty much everything here is a work in progress, and my development as a poet certainly is and always will be an ongoing process. Most if not all of those who comment here have been writing poetry longer than I, some far longer, and I consider their expertise an invaluable resource as I stumble around trying to get the words (and the colors 🙂 ) right.

  4. as you are pairing grief and shadows and detachment with the flower, the use of black and marigold colors provides a counterpoint to the text. In the first haiku (or first 3 lines?) the reversal of the two (the color black for marigold, the color marigold for lines about dark and displacement) is intriguing and a clue that the box might fold into alternate shapes, origami perhaps.

  5. or, given the colors you chose for your site, perhaps I’m simply noticing a happy coincidence (just as well, I’m trying to improve my unhappy/happy coincidence observation ratio)

    • Yes, I think in the previous comment you were giving me far too much credit for thoughtfulness in selecting colors — I started out with something like red and blue and that really was obtrusive, so I was just going for toning it down and making the colors more natural. I still don’t know what to do about them.

      Feel free to point out any other happy coincidences you notice, I could use some practice seeing them too…

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