Sunday, January 23, 2011

I Hope Nobody Saw Me

My favorite January job is pruning the 13 rose bushes in the front landscape of my house. Most of them are wicked little shits, excuse my French, so it’s challenging to work among them without getting torn up. This year I used long-handled loppers. Ha! Nary a thorn ripped my flesh.

What I love about pruning roses is the process of considering where to make the cuts. I have to work with the architecture of each rose and the network of branches it created in its growing season. However the shrub grew, I discipline it back into a vase shape, open in the center like a cupped hand. I get rid of stems I don’t like and cut the rest at a particular place to force growth outward, away from the center. It’s an art form for me, working with the rose to create something pleasing.

I did the roses in batches this past week, a few at a time, because I was paranoid about making my ridiculously unhappy spine even unhappier. Maybe the event I’m going to describe for you (in a minute) happened because of that, because I felt at the mercy of a thing not of my choosing,

NanU, the Science Girl, drives the Eejit’s Poetry Bus around the world this week, and her prompt threw me for a loop: She said, write about something you like that other people don’t like. Or you’re afraid they don’t like it. Or you think they think you’re strange for liking it.

Ultimately, I wrote about something I did one afternoon, after the roses. I chortled as I did it, like a little maniac, and I did hope that no one saw what I was doing. It will be interesting to see what other Bus riders do with that prompt. We’re all linked here.

Free the leaves and they will bless you

in the dead of winter’s landscape
the brown thatch
of the lilac bush
sleeps beneath its brother the sycamore
the pair of them
stripped to the bone
frozen in the act of grabbing the sky

trapped in the cage of the lilac bush
sycamore leaves
curl fisted hands
thwarted in their pilgrimage from tree
to ground, from
steeple to grave
denied the sanctuary of soil

one moment on one ordinary day
you pass by them
going somewhere
as blindly as you have passed before
intent on some
forgettable chore
when you hear it and then you hear it

in the silence you recognize the sound
~the resignation
of anguish~
and it calls to you as a comrade would
you stop to look
you see the leaves
furled and wretched in the lilac’s web

instinctively you free one brown leaf
and watch it
settle into place
among its clan, then possessed by some
strange jubilance
you shake the shrub
hard, free all the leaves, laughing like God


NanU said...

Wonderful poem! I feel just the same about the hydrangeas out front and everything they've caught in a season.

Rachel Fox said...

My favourite of your poems to date. All round well done.

Karen said...

This is wonderful, Chris! Your imagery is so clear that I feel like I'm there with her. I love the impulse that caught you. Nature called, and you heard her.

Brian Miller said...

smiles...shake the leaves!

Shadow said...

ha, i don't think you're the only one to have done this before... nice poem it made, though!

120 Socks said...

Daring, but I like it!

Nana Jo said...

Oh, this poem is gorgeous! So much richness and beauty. "... laughing like God" ... what a wonderful line!

My stepfather loves his rose garden, too. One my most endearing images is watching him tend to his "girls" as he calls them.

Totalfeckineejit said...

Free the people, free the leaves, cry FREEDOM!!

Scott said...

hmmm, I just hack mine back. somehow I feel dirty now! nice piece, the winter version of stopping to smell the roses!

The Bug said...

I love love love this! I can just picture you doing it. :)

nuts4fruits said...

So beautiful and unexpected. I'll try to free the leaves next time I get the opportunity.

Helen said...

OK .. I'm visualizing you laughing like a maniac! Nicely written as always.

Magpie said...

Sometimes we just can't contain it when the joy grabs just slips out! So much fun when it does, but yes, sometimes a little embarrassing.

Marion said...

I love this poem! You caught that joy that descends upon me sometimes so well!

It's like when I was little, and overcome by happiness...I would shake, too! So glad those leaves found home.

I love the way you describe the pruning of roses. You've quite inspired me, and I'm wanting to go out and prune. Unfortunately, the roses are under a few feet of snow!

Kat Mortensen said...

I like the physical form of this with the short and long lines mimicking the branches. I'm not fond of working with roses at all, but I've been known to wield the pruning shears to great effect. (I cut a lilac bush down to the ground once; I must have looked mad there in my work clothes and dress shoes, but I'd had enough of it and it had to go! Thankfully, it came back and was better than ever!)

RNSANE said...

For some people, pruning the rose bushes would be just another nasty task. It's nice that you take it on with such a loving spirit. I would really like to see all those beauties in bloom. A couple of times, I've been fortunate enough to visit Butchart Gardens in British Columbia when the roses are in bloom in June and it is a sight to behold. The gardens are heady with the perfume of those that are fragrant and the beauty of all of them. I want to go back sometime and get more photographs, now that I'm blogging!

Dick said...

Terrific - 'frozen in the act of grabbing the sky' and many other lines powering this rich piece along.

Syd said...

We used to grow hybrid tea roses and cutting them back every March was a major job. Finally, we decided to get some of the more disease resistant roses that don't require pruning.

Teri and the cats of Furrydance said...

Very heady, like the scent of a rose, but only imagined as it is winter