Song: So Why Does This Dead Carnation
So why does this dead carnation hold
particular charm? Ten days ago
it was fresh, a bright, vibrant red,
but now has lost its gleam, and the fold
of its petals has loosened. It's like a flower
in a painting, or an ordinary imitation
in paper or cloth. One would have said
it is useless, yet I feel a kind of power.
Were they right, the Egyptians, to mummify
cadavers? I've pinned the carnation
upside down to my bulletin board
the way Kazuko used to pin roses, to let it
dry completely, I'm not sure why.
But I know my frightened mind can cower
to see my brown-spotted hand moving toward
uselessness, though it still has a kind of power.
From moment to moment the world becomes
memory, a still life, what the French
call nature morte. No embalmer
could make my hand lifelike for an hour
after it's gone. But I'll keep the dry
carnation anyway, the best I can do
to abstract our existence and wrench
from the useless past a kind of present power.
On Margate sands I connect nothing with nothing
As our old pal Tom once remarked. These sands
Are damp and littered, not at all appealing,
Not like the soft sands of Manfredonia where the
Italian boys grew onions and garlic for their
Lunch. Can you imagine how much I wish I were
There? No, you cannot, my dears. Especially not
In the little time we have left to us.
Copper Canyon Press
Copyright © 2012 by Joe-Anne McLaughlin Carruth
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission