It seems like it’s been forever since I’ve been at work, not ten days. I desperately don’t want to go back tomorrow, but alas, that is how it goes… I worry about what’s waiting for me when I get back, but not enough to check my email in advance. Must milk this last night for all its worth! (Side note: is it “it’s worth” or “its worth“, in this case? It could go either way, grammatically…)

Gladiolas are my mother’s favorite flower, and I think her frequent cries of, “Oh, gladiolas!” on a birthday/Mother’s Day morning are why it was one of the first uncommon flower names I knew. Most kids grow up knowing roses, daisies, dandelions; I think gladiolas are a pretty rare one. DVerse wanted a summer poem, so this was what happened… in contrast to the one I had to drag kicking and screaming out of my right-brain yesterday, this one spilled out rather easily. O, fickle muse! (And I could have written about honeysuckle too, as a floral-summer-thing, but I’ve already done that before.)


Leo wanes: and then the sunsets are possessed.
Their last scraps smolder in the corners of twilight,
throw the bushes into sharp relief. Everything
peeks off the edge of the cliff. At the bottom

there is the lengthening night and sap slowing
in the vein. A heart, being fiery, knows what the mind
will not: the gradient of time, the head grown heavy,
shaking its crisp leaves. Some part of us

always clings desperately to the driftwood,
submerging its flames with a final song. If that feeling
could be said to have a smell, I suspect these:
my mother’s vase full of sword-lilies, spears of them

from a birthday, burst with pale pink stars-and-stars.
This scent: the harpstring note at the uppermost
register of smell, whittled out of wet marble, and, like
a mother, always waiting nearby, steady as nightfall.

5 thoughts on “Gladiolas

  1. ManicDdaily says:

    Ah, this is a lovely poem. Gladiolas such an interesting flower – first the name, which sounds like gladness, but then, the fact that it is so often used as a funeral flower–perhaps because it can stand up tall and in large arrangements, or because of its bell=like shape. Anyway, works so well here (even if the actual favorite of your mother) and the clinging to the driftwood, the flames of that – very lovely – k.

    ps – I think it’s “it’s” in this case. For what it is worth! k.

  2. danadampier says:

    A beautiful poem… and I love the backstory.

  3. brian miller says:

    nice….some great touches in this that def evoke summer…your inclusion of birthday and waining leo, nice…considering mine is aug 22nd….smiles….the clinging to the driftwood as well…like that much…

  4. Oh, brilliant poem. I was quite the gardener as a little boy, and Gladiolas were one of the first plants I’d ever grown. They are quite beautiful. And boy did they keep sprouting! Soon, I had a reasonable bed full of them. :)

    Also, Google seems to like ‘its’ more than ‘it’s,’ but my money’s on the latter. They’re both grammatical, though.

  5. Karin: she’s a sucker for roses too, but gladiolas are nicer, in my opinion…
    Dana: glad you enjoyed it!
    Brian: happy slightly belated birthday! Consider this your bouquet. :)
    Rigel: are they difficult to grow? They always seem pretty intense to me, I have to imagine they’re not for the faint of heart.

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