October 9, 2019


I saw this video, "Gladiolus," based on a poem by Christine Stewart-Nunez (from Bluewords Greening , Terrapin Books ). The film adaptation of the poem is by Terrance Stewart.

Bluewords Greening is a book about motherhood, love and family, and fear and failure based on her son and his diagnosis with a rare form of epilepsy. The “bluewords” result from his aphasia.

The video and poem also made me think about the flower itself. Gladiolus comes from Latin, the diminutive of gladius, a sword. It is in the iris family. It is sometimes called the "sword lily" but is usually called by its generic name (plural gladioli).

My mother loved flowers but would not let me plant gladioli. She said they were "funeral flowers" because they often appeared in floral arrangements there.

But poets have written about them in that and other ways.

In "Nothing Stays Put," Amy Clampitt writes of florist flowers taken from their natural setting.

...Orchids, opulence by the pailful, just slightly
fatigued by the plane trip from Hawaii, are
disposed on the sidewalks; alstroemerias, freesias
fattened a bit in translation from overseas; gladioli
likewise estranged from their piercing ancestral crimson...

In "The Onion Memory" by Craig Raine,
Those crustaceous gladioli, on the sly,
reveal the crimson flower-flesh
inside their emerald armor plate.
Things revealed as the voice of the poem slices onions while his ex-wife, now a friend, sews a dress -
This is the quiet echo--flesh--
white muscle on white muscle,
intimately folded skin,
finished with a satin rustle.

Visit our website at poetsonline.org

No comments:

Post a Comment

* * All comments must be approved by the site administrator before appearing in order to prevent spam.