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.