Emplumada

When summer ended

the leaves of snapdragons withered

taking their shrill-colored mouths with them.

They were still, so quiet. They were

violet where umber now is. She hated

and she hated to see

them go. Flowers

 

born when the weather was good – this

she thinks of, watching the branch of peaches

daring their ways above the fence, and further,

two hummingbirds, hovering, stuck to each other,

arcing their bodies in grim determination

to find what is good, what is

given them to find. These are warriors

 

distancing themselves from history.

They find peace

in the way they contain the wind

and are gone.

 

Alright.  CPR.

Literally – Summer has ended and the flowers are dying.  “She” hates to see the flowers die.  “She” remembers when the flowers come while she watches two hummingbirds around a peach.  The hummingbirds are looking for something edible in the peach and are described as warriors.  “They contain peace in the way they contain the wind and are gone” is the only line I don’t understand, yet it seems to be the most pivotal.

Patterns and Oddities – I see a lot of juxtaposition.  The hummingbirds are warriors but they find peace.  “She” watches the flowers die while she thinks of when they were alive.  The main oddity is the line I don’t understand.  The line is shorter and isn’t as visual as the rest of the poem is.  Another oddity is the line breaks.  They break right after flowers and warriors, in the middle of sentences.

I looked at the line breaks to see if they meant anything.  The first stanza is about the snapdragons dying and ends with the word “flowers”.  The next stanza starts with the word “born” and talks about the peaches that seem to still be alive and the fluttering hummingbirds.  The hummingbirds are obviously full of life.  This stanza ends with “warriors,” and the hummingbirds are fighting for survival, trying to find food among what is around them.  I looked at it this way in an attempt to understand the last line.  The first and last words of each of the stanzas makes sense to what’s happening at that particular place in the poem.  The first word in the final stanza is “distancing” and the final word is “gone”.  Judging from this alone, the final stanzas seems very bleak.  But somehow the hummingbirds are finding peace in the wind, force that’s constantly moving and pushing things along.

hummingbird500.gif

So I guess what I think the poem is saying is life will go on.  The snapdragons are dead, but they were once alive and will come again with the next spring.  The peaches are alive and the hummingbirds are always moving along like the wind.  They are searching for food to stay alive and continue moving through life.  “We all have reasons for moving.  I move to keep things whole” (Strand).

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It’s all right to think back and miss things, and things will be hard from time to time, but life will continue going on.  As Joe Dirt said, we’ve got to keep on keepin on.  If we stop and let every loss in our lives get to us instead of forge forward like the wind, we’ll wind up withered like the snapdragons.

 

Daddy

daddy

You do not do, you do not do
Any more, black shoe
In which I have lived like a foot
For thirty years, poor and white,
Barely daring to breathe or Achoo.

Daddy, I have had to kill you.
You died before I had time—
Marble-heavy, a bag full of God,
Ghastly statue with one gray toe
Big as a Frisco seal

lord of the rings

And a head in the freakish Atlantic
Where it pours bean green over blue
In the waters off the beautiful Nauset.
I used to pray to recover you.
Ach, du.

In the German tongue, in the Polish town
Scraped flat by the roller
Of wars, wars, wars.
But the name of the town is common.
My Polack friend

Says there are a dozen or two.
So I never could tell where you
Put your foot, your root,
I never could talk to you.
The tongue stuck in my jaw.

It stuck in a barb wire snare.
Ich, ich, ich, ich,
I could hardly speak.
I thought every German was you.
And the language obscene

An engine, an engine,
Chuffing me off like a Jew.
A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen.
I began to talk like a Jew.
I think I may well be a Jew.

The snows of the Tyrol, the clear beer of Vienna
Are not very pure or true.
With my gypsy ancestress and my weird luck
And my Taroc pack and my Taroc pack
I may be a bit of a Jew.

I have always been sacred of you,
With your Luftwaffe, your gobbledygoo.
And your neat mustache
And your Aryan eye, bright blue.
Panzer-man, panzer-man, O You—-

Not God but a swastika
So black no sky could squeak through.
Every woman adores a Fascist,
The boot in the face, the brute
Brute heart of a brute like you.

You stand at the blackboard, daddy,
In the picture I have of you,
A cleft in your chin instead of your foot
But no less a devil for that, no not
Any less the black man who

Bit my pretty red heart in two.
I was ten when they buried you.
At twenty I tried to die
And get back, back, back to you.
I thought even the bones would do.

But they pulled me out of the sack,
And they stuck me together with glue.
And then I knew what to do.
I made a model of you,
A man in black with a Meinkampf look

meinkampf

And a love of the rack and the screw.
And I said I do, I do.
So daddy, I’m finally through.
The black telephone’s off at the root,
The voices just can’t worm through.

If I’ve killed one man, I’ve killed two—
The vampire who said he was you
And drank my blood for a year,
Seven years, if you want to know.
Daddy, you can lie back now.

There’s a stake in your fat black heart
And the villagers never liked you.
They are dancing and stamping on you.
They always knew it was you.
Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I’m through.

So here’s what I’m thinking this poem is about. Her father was gone before she had grown past being a little girl. He was a nazi. When she was little she saw him like all little girls see their fathers, this big god, or statue as she calls him, that has no flaw and cannot be defeated. As she grew up he wasn’t there for her to see his flaws, so she still sees him as this ideal that controls her life. Even though he’s gone and the villagers are stamping on his corpse. They didn’t like him, so he must have some flaws. She just can’t see them because he wasnever there.

The part about a model of him with a Meinkampf look… Does she see Hitler as a sort of scapegoat father? Did she look to the media and see Hitler and associate him with her dad because her father was a Nazi?

antinazi