Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Gladiolas in the summer

     In the novel, "Purge" by Sofi Oksanen, one of the characters calls gladiolas the Russian flower.  Since the character is Estonian, that is a disparaging comment on the poor gladiola.  Curious that my father, who was Latvian, planted a circular flower bed with pink  gladiolas every year.  These were the only flowers he ever paid attention to and he watered and weeded the bed with great care. He had grown up in Siberia so there may be some truth to the Russian quality of the flower.
     I never liked them- they either stood straight or flopped over from their own top heavy weight.  Then there was the problem that the parts of the flower never bloomed in unison so part of the flower had dead blooms while another part was fully open. 
     There was something funereal about them.  They were the predominant flower sticking out in almost every flower arrangement around the casket at every funeral I went to.  Typically they were red and imposing, vaguely reminiscent of blood.
     Years later a friend I visited in Lucca, Italy, had a huge vase full of glads dramatically presiding over the entire flat.  They were beautiful and I was impressed.  Back in Barcelona, I tried growing them on my terrace, but the heat always caused them to come up scraggly if they did come up at all.  Here in Atlanta, the glads coming up in the vegetable garden are small and cute.  So here, where it is summer, I can indulge in flower reminiscences. 

And the poem for my father that appears in my second chapbook:

Father’s Day


Green spring erupts,

the kittens,

wild, frantic,


over each other

racing in the barn.

His touch tames.

He presents them

like the  peas he shells and

lines up.


The lull never lasts,

wind whips through cracks of

closed windows.

He’s the one I search for

in shapely dark madness.

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