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.

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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.

 

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