For Monday, May 9, 2016:
“How to Write a Poem – Catch the air/around the butterfly.”
Katerina Stoykova Klemer
“The sidelong glance is what you depend on.”
Poetry is blooming in the yard right now. Finally, after almost four years of trying, there are little purple violets in almost all the places I planted them.
In addition to my usual thrill at the slow gentle, tender greenness of spring, I adore the shy violets and the way they seem suddenly to pop out in their royal dresses. A few days ago, as I looked out the windows, I saw what I can only describe as ‘blurs’ of purple, as if through a camera lens coated in rain. When I went outside, I saw the first buds of a couple of established violets, and then little, younger, plants in more and more places.
This is a big deal in more ways than one. The soil of the ground here needs considerable help. Soon after we moved here, we found out that the site had formerly housed an unofficial auto body business, and that the structure had burned down. That explained, then, why we smelled oil every time we tried to dig in the ground. So I tried everything natural that I could think of to start the process to clean up and regenerate the soil. I knew it would take a long time – especially with few resources – but I wanted to try.
Violets help heal my soul (as some of my poems attest), but I have found over many decades that they heal the soil as well. Given the already-poor quality of the soil that was made worse by the remains of oil and fire, I thought I would try my go-to remedy of violets. I ordered seeds, I dug up purple, lavender, and white volunteers in my sister’s and brother-in-law’s yard, I moved one or two that were struggling in our gravel driveway. I thought all the seeds were washed away in summer storms, and all the volunteers that I transplanted were consumed by the toxic soil (except for three tiny survivors in one sheltered pocket).
When I first saw the ‘blurs’ in the yard a few days ago, I went outside to look more closely. As usual, I saw the violets when I looked with unfocused eyes first. These sidelong glances often provide the most reliable views of what is otherwise hidden in our own realm, rather like glimpses of faery beings or sprites who might accompany us or watch us as we walk in the world of mysteries.
Next time you’re outside, then, stop a bit and let your eyes get blurry. Or as you sit and rest inside. There just might be a poem in those blurs. And maybe, if you’re lucky, even a violet or two.