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Late Bloomer

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The cluster of yucca plants by my driveway has bloomed twice this year, each time many stems grow tall, bloom and fade and I cut them down.  Then this one stalk appeared, but something about the weather or the season prevented it from stretching above the leaves, so it bloomed surrounded by the plant’s green.

It’s a late bloomer, like me.  Most people who know me now have no idea how slow I was to learn to think for myself.  I got good grades and succeeded mostly by doing what I was told.

I began thinking of myself as a poet in my 20s, but it did not occur to me that there is a teachable craft to writing until I was able to join workshops – not classes – many years later.  (I don’t mean things like grammar, which are important to communicate; I’ve known those rules since childhood.)

Once you know the rules of a craft, it’s much more fun to learn how and when they can be broken.

It makes possible surprises like these well-shaped blooms surrounded by green.

How Native Plants Behave

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primrose 2Several years ago I planted Mexican primrose.  I thought I had killed it after a year.  There was no sign of it the third year, nor the fourth.  If I had known it could still come back, I would not have planted the chamisa bush quite where I did.  But it turned out that this was just what the Mexican primrose wanted.  Native plants do not need to be spaced.  In fact, they are happier in each other’s shade.  And the Mexican primrose sends its stems in all directions to take its flowers to the sun.

Other native plants have been active.  Poppies come up where ever they choose.  This one is sharing space with a plant I know as “wire lettuce.”  It has a small pink flower, when it decides to bloom.P1000078

Yucca plants which spent years squeezed by a prickly pear cactus have taken advantage of the space in the course of the two years since the cactus collapsed in an unusually deep freeze.yucca close

The yucca is the state flower of New Mexico  There are many varieties and the legislature neglected (or perhaps refused?) to specify which one is the official one.

 

Ascent Goes Public

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Let this bold blooming yucca in my neighbor’s yard stand for the achievement of the five southwestern women poets as we presented our work in our book Ascent to the public today at our local library.

Some of us have been writing for decades, others only recently, but for all of us this is work of our maturity.  Three years of critiquing each others’ work had not blurred the difference in the way we see our world.

I shared this observation on the environment where I now live:

A jackrabbit feeds on
freeze-dried prickly pear,
bolts a my approach,
happy in his speed, doing
what he’s made for.

Susan Gomez describes a dust storm in “Fury”:

Our small car listed
as we navigated the wind
with its airborne sediment. . . .

Air and silt, violent, howled into the night.

Teral Katahara closely observes another part of our landscape:

I stop to see Sandia and pungent Jalapeno
chile plants
sitting in the neighbor’s field. . . . .

Sun shines through
translucent red skins
splotched with warm gold.

The other poets chose to share pieces about their past.  Lucille Tully recalls Chicago in “State Street 1957”:

Now in the quiet of the late night
I walk alone except for the one

staggering drunk who does his dance
while I smile, do mine, to stay clear of his

Still, as strange, silent companions
we share this concrete way.

Polly Evans, eldest and in many ways wisest of the group, encompasses a lifetime in “Hide and Seek,” beginning with basement and closet. Then

The apple tree was easy . . .
I hid in the foliage.
The big dog knew I was there;
I watched the cats,
and the kids coming home.

After a stanza about hiding in early marriage, the poem concludes:

The night you died
there was no place to hide.

Ascent is a truly self-published book, available only from the authors.  See the Books page and use the Contact page for more information.