Of Dead Hydrangeas and Soldier Ants


A confession: At the beginning of every summer, I experience a complete revulsion to the idea of reading contemporary poetry. I realize that this is foolish (actually, stupid) since I’m a contemporary poet, but I always feel like I need a break. My break: reading nonfiction and novels. Really though, writers like Toni Morrison have taught me about poetry as much as any poet.

Speaking of the great ToMo, lately – every time I see hydrangeas, I think of this beautiful passage from Tar Baby:

At some point in life the world’s beauty becomes enough. You don’t need to photograph, paint, or even remember it. It is enough. No record of it needs to be kept and you don’t need someone to share it with or tell it to. When that happens – that letting go – you let go because you can. The world will always be there – while you sleep it will be there – when you wake it will be there. A dead hydrangea is as intricate and lovely as one in bloom. Bleak sky is as seductive as sunshine, miniature orange trees without blossom or fruit are not defective; they are that. So the windows of the greenhouse can be opened and the weather let in. The latch on the door can be left unhooked, the muslin removed, for the soldier ants are beautiful too and whatever they do will be part of it.

Now, if you don’t read that and automatically hear Walt Whitman himself, we could never be lovers.

I have heard what the talkers were talking, the talk of the beginning and the end, / but I do not talk of the beginning or the end. / There was never any more inception than there is now, / Nor any more youth or age than there is now, / And will never be any more perfection that there is now, / Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.  (from Song of Myself)


One response to “Of Dead Hydrangeas and Soldier Ants

  1. This just stops my heart. And the first poem does bring in mind the second very aptly. I love song of myself. Somethings just defy description and need not be talked about they are so profound, but we do.

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