Poetry Wednesday – January 27, 2010

27 Jan

I first read Donald Hall’s Without as a senior in high school, about six months after my father died of cancer.  Donald Hall wrote this book after his wife, Jane Kenyon, lost her long battle with cancer. Every moment reading this book is heartwrenching.

A friend from college lost her mother this past week from cancer, and all of the emotions from my dad’s death were stirred up in me again. I turned to Without as catharsis.  This is the final poem in the book of many (all) gems.

Weeds and Peonies

by Donald Hall


Your peonies burst out, white as snow squalls,

with red flecks at their shaggy centers

in your border of prodigies by the porch.

I carry one magnanimous blossom indoors

and float it in a glass bowl, as you used to do.


Ordinary pleasures, contentment recollected,

blow like snow into the abandoned garden,

overcoming the daisies.  Your blue coat

vanishes down Pond Road into imagined snowflakes

with Gus at your side, his great tail swinging,


but you will not reappear, tired and satisfied,

and grief’s repeated particles suffuse the air–

like the dog yipping through the entire night,

or the cat stretching awake, then curling

as if to dream of her mother’s milky nipples.


A raccoon dislodged a geranium from its pot.

Flowers, roots, and dirt lay upended

in the back garden where lilies begin

their daily excursions above stone walls

in the season of old roses.  I pace beside weeds


and snowy peonies, staring at Mount Kearsarge

where you climbed wearing purple hiking boots.

“Hurry back.  Be careful, climbing down.”

your peonies lean their vast heads westward

as if they might topple.  Some topple.


Read more poems or contribute your own HERE


2 Responses to “Poetry Wednesday – January 27, 2010”

  1. Molly Sabourin January 27, 2010 at 9:38 pm #

    Jennifer, thank you for sharing this poem, and for sharing why it means so much to you. I found it to be incredibly moving and achingly beautiful.

  2. Kris January 27, 2010 at 10:27 pm #

    This poem rings so true. In my life flowers remind me of so many different people.

    We used to tease my dad about his love of gladioli and canna, they are such common flowers. But after his death they became special and exotic.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: