Category Archives: Poetry

GBMD: What every gardener knows

Here’s an old poem I recently resurrected. I wasn’t able to find the newspaper article that inspired the poem (too old, I suspect), but I did find the research on the fact that a view of trees helps hospital patients recover. It was conducted by Roger S. Ulrich, a professor of architecture, a fact which alerted me to a whole branch of architecture which I’d had no idea existed–and which I’m very glad does exist, since its goal appears to be to make buildings more humane for the humans that inhabit them.

Ulrich’s landmark study* compared recovery experiences of two groups of patients who’d gone through the same surgery. One group had view of a wall; the other group had windows that looked out on trees. Guess what? The patients who could see trees had shorter hospital stays, needed less potent pain medication (and less of it), had fewer complications, and complained less about their nurses than did the patients who were looking at a brick wall.

I love this.

Unfortunately, a lot of hospitals still haven’t quite learned it. Last time I had to stay overnight, which I guess was for my second knee replacement surgery back in Dec. of 2009, my room had a lovely view–but I couldn’t see it. Some complicated computer terminal had been set up in front of it, where the head of the bed should have been, so I saw a big black computer screen, and beyond it–yes, a brick wall.

(click to see the poem)

Continue reading

GBMD Lia Purpura, “First Leaf”

There are actually two poems from recent New Yorkers that I want to share, but for the moment I’ll stick to the more recent and most seasonally apt one. If a dozen other garden bloggers already  posted this, my apologies for being out of touch. (I’m still getting online only intermittently–more intermittently than I’d realized; I can’t believe it’s a month since I’ve posted! Well, the garden season here has ended so precipitously that I should have more time soon.)

I’m always curious, when I post a poem, whether readers like it or not, and why, so please feel free to post a comment.

First Leaf

by Lia Purpura
The New Yorker October 5, 2009

That yellow
was a falling off,
a fall
for once I saw
it could
in its stillness
still be turned from,
it was not
yet ferocious,
its hold drew me,
was a shiny switchplate
in the otherwise dark,
rash, ongoing green,
a green so hungry
for light and air that
part gave up,
went alone,
chose to leave,
and by choosing
got seen.


That first yellow leaf–usually a whole cluster–usually appears here sometime in mid-August, irrespective of the weather. So it was this year, even though we had a September as hot as most Julys. Someone told me that the trees react not to weather but to the length of days. That would explain why now, after two weeks of winter weather, the trees still hang onto their leaves, tenacious and suspicious.

BGMD In Praise of Seasons

   Pink and white carnations—one desires
    So much more than that.

            Wallace Stevens
            “The Poems of Our Climate”

Moving back
to Minnesota? say friends
in L.A., in New York.
They try not to sound rude,
but they fail;
their voices soar and drop
like ill-flown kites in spotty wind.
They think we are out of our minds.

Continue reading

GBMD: somewhere i have never travelled

Johnson's g

somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
any experience, your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look will easily unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,  mysteriously) her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the color of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens; only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands

–e.e. cummings

I will admit to having a quite personal reason for treasuring this poem: back when I was madly in love with my husband and he was not in love with me (that would be our sophomore year in college) he gave me this poem. Now, I know a love poem when I see one, and I refused to believe it meant nothing. Maybe that's why I was able to outlast the others who had designs on his heart. 

The photograph is of what I believe to be a Johnson's geranium, growing wild near an abandoned settlement in Newfoundland.

Minnesota Spring: GBMD, approximately

I thought it was still Monday when I set out to transcribe this; I'd had three hours' sleep Sunday night and none Tuesay night, and I'm a bit addled. (I slept 18 hours last night, a personal best.) The occasion for this sleepless extravaganza was the last, mad push to finish, at last, the compost article, which I sent out yesterday. Afterwards I felt rather like a somewhat limp helium balloo that might just drift away over the landscape.

Anyway, I thought it was Monday, but it wasn't, so this isn't really a Garden Blogger's Muse Day contribution. It's even less of one than it should be, because I forgot to post it yesterday.

Continue reading