after William Carlos Williams’s “Queen-Anne’s-Lace”
Kimiko Hahn, 1955
Remote purple lays claim to stem,
beside routine stripes of green and brown.
Dark as a patch of shade
in the marsh across the path
that the neighborhood kids and I,
were forbidden to pass. It is
that hue that overtakes,
the marsh that sucks in boots
and offers up skunk cabbage and cattails.
Nests here and overhead. Who named this plant--
also called bog onion, brown dragon, Indian turnip, wake robin,
and who told me I cannot name. But
his purple—all shadow, all remote and not-remote,
all question marks,
This herbaceous perennial, growing from corm
vertical and swollen as it is underground.
Even in late summer, it is not nothing, William
turning from purple to red before his scattering.
Copyright © 2016 by Kimiko Hahn.
Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 28, 2016,
by the Academy of American Poets.
"Why did not somebody teach me the constellations, and make me at home in the starry heavens?" Thomas Carlyle
"The 'natural' world is the world, and the productions of man extensions of it--always--even when obscene or tortuously remote. It helps to remember." David Leveson
"Others again have reproached me with my style, which has not the solemnity nay better, the dryness of the schools. They fear lest a page that is read without fatigue should not always be the expression of the truth. Were I to take their word for it, we are profound only on condition of being obscure."
"Ideas won't keep; something must be done about them."