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Nothing Stays Put Analysis

Author: poem of Amy Clampitt Type: poem Views: 19

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In memory of Father Flye, 1884-1985

The strange and wonderful are too much with us.

The protea of the antipodes—a great,

globed, blazing honeybee of a bloom—

for sale in the supermarket! We are in

our decadence, we are not entitled.

What have we done to deserve

all the produce of the tropics—

this fiery trove, the largesse of it

heaped up like cannonballs, these pineapples, bossed

and crested, standing like troops at attention,

these tiers, these balconies of green, festoons

grown sumptuous with stoop labor?

The exotic is everywhere, it comes to us

before there is a yen or a need for it. The green-

grocers, uptown and down, are from South Korea.

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;

as well as, less altered from the original blue cornflower

of the roadsides and railway embankments of Europe, these

bachelor's buttons. But it isn't the railway embankments

their featherweight wheels of cobalt remind me of, it's

a row of them among prim colonnades of cosmos,

snapdragon, nasturtium, bloodsilk red poppies,

in my grandmother's garden: a prairie childhood,

the grassland shorn, overlaid with a grid,

unsealed, furrowed, harrowed and sown with immigrant grasses,

their massive corduroy, their wavering feltings embroidered

here and there by the scarlet shoulder patch of cannas

on a courthouse lawn, by a love knot, a cross stitch

of living matter, sown and tended by women,

nurturers everywhere of the strange and wonderful,

beneath whose hands what had been alien begins,

as it alters, to grow as though it were indigenous.

But at this remove what I think of as

strange and wonderful, strolling the side streets of Manhattan

on an April afternoon, seeing hybrid pear trees in blossom,

a tossing, vertiginous colonnade of foam, up above—

is the white petalfall, the warm snowdrift

of the indigenous wild plum of my childhood.

Nothing stays put. The world is a wheel.

All that we know, that we're

made of, is motion.

Anonymous submission.


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