Sunday, March 24, 2013

Forced forsythia: Rachel Blau DuPlessis

Today the forsythia inside have bloomed.

There's something compelling about forsythia, one of the earliest spring blooms. And only just this year, I learned that the branches can be brought in and forced, and so I tried it, and today I have flowers (and cats who cannot resist them, alas, so they--the flowers, that is--which have gone over twice already, have to be penned up in a room with a door). A good description of how to force forsythia can be found here, on About. com. Mine took about a week to bloom.

Here they are, still frosty, outdoors this morning:

A week ago, when I brought them in:

Yesterday morning:

And today:

It puts me in mind of a poem I once puzzled over by a poet whose work I came to love many, many years ago, when I was a young poet, Rachel Blau DuPlessis. This is a selection from the opening of a much longer poem, from her book Tabula Rosa (1987).


Snow on o-
yellow for-

open force

No one
yell ow--you
yellow mortal thing
ringed in
dull earth's icy garland.


Even the lever is a gleaning.
"Thou" art the fulcrum.

She's writing about flowers and women. It's not all pretty, perhaps, but then it never has been. Today, I wonder if Rachel knew that forsythia can be forced. It's interesting, the uses that a flower can make, of words. I've thought about that syllable "force" buried in forsythia, ever since I read this poem. They're a powerful flower. And still, they blow me away, both, the words yes, and the flowers, too, every spring.

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