Among other things
the forsythia blooms
indoors, in water,
just as one presumes–
its tiny yellow openings
burst into day stars
forcing spring
into the winter gloom.

But now the branches
lately cut, are doomed
never to know again
how golden plumes might
ride together on a wind
might bow and swing
among other things.

Separation marks them
for a loamy tomb where
dry sticks end,
sink, are consumed.
Or so it seems, except
for a remembering

a homesickness for sun
an urge toward wings
and what it means to be
a glow in the brume
among other things.


53 responses »

    • Oh you of the grapefruit blossoms, flowering fields of ranunculus, and seemingly impossible roses….I imagine you can imagine what a few tiny forsythia flowers indoors can do for the soul of one of us northern types!

  1. This is startlingly beautiful, thank you. Forsythia cuttings will of course take root easily and I feel like flying over to save them!! But, then again, you can have only so many forsythia shrubs! A wonderful poem. Thank you again.

    • I can see the headlines now: man from New Zealand flies to Maine, USA, to rescue forsythia cuttiings! They are a hearty shrub, though, once they get going, and they do “force” easily in our doldrums of late winter and early spring. I’m glad you like the poem. Thank you so much for your kind words, Bruce

  2. Fantabulous Cynthia! I have done this before with forsythia and almost felt sorry for it having been cut off its natural stem of life. But a desperate need to be “forcing spring/into the winter gloom” seems to take over. I love how this doesn’t actually rhyme but you follow through with the same sounds – bloom. gloom, presume, tomb, brume etc Love it.(I had to look up ‘brume’ – where have I been all these years?! 😊)

    (skip two for my response, Chris. The flow got interrupted here πŸ™‚ )

    • No forsythia open here yet so this was a welcome bit of yellow in our brown world.I echo what Christine said about the assonance. It creates a nice humming, almost like “ohm” as you read it. And of course, I note the use of the word “brume”. πŸ˜‰

    • I was a bit afraid to be hitting you over the head with that rhyming, Chris, but I’m glad you like it. “Brume” is a word I knew in French before I knew it was also an English word (probably borrowed from the french). There was some question in my mind as to whether its homonym, “broom” would also work. I guess so. Thank you, as always, for reading and encouragement. πŸ™‚

  3. wonderful. I love the way you look at such an everyday activity and the consequences. I stood for a few moments trying to decide whether or not to trim some small branches from my forsythia but because it is a smaller tree and I chose to let them “ride together on the wind.”

    • My grandmother used to justify cutting the forsythia in March to take indoors, by saying that she was pruning it, to make it healthier! (She also used to call it “forcynthia” in my honor). Thank you for your lovely comment, Sheila.

      • Forsythia is my least-favorite flowering plant because of a ridiculous probably-Aspie-related aversion to certain yellow (and orange) shades. But between your poem, and, now, your clearly-wonderful grandmother’s wonderfully-dear name Forcynthia, I will have to raise up the lowly plant’s position (if only slightly πŸ˜‰ ) in my personal echelon of perennials.

        • I am honored. (and I thoroughly understand and share your aversion to certain shades of yellow, only the forsythia isn’t one of mine….. mustard, dog pee in the snow…certain shades of wall paint and hair dye, the skin of a man with jaundice…maybe… πŸ™‚ )

          • Ah: The context-specific shade-sensitive individual. But which mustard? Which breed of dog, and how aged the kidneys? Is the paint matte or gloss finish? What is the complexion of the dye-job bob-wearer? How advanced the jaundice?

            But I wholly respect your own viewpoint (no matter how ridiculously arbitrary).

            • I hadn’t thought to be so very specific, but here goes: French’s mustard, any large mongrel of any age, gloss finish, leathery tanned complexion, and terminal jaundice…all the aesthetically arbitrary sensitivities of an aged one with diminished powers of appreciation.
              Yourself, being still a spring chicken, might, quite understandably, think them ridiculous. πŸ™‚

              • I first laughed, then re-read and agreed, with the exception of the tanned complexion. Plus the description of my close-to-60-year-old self as a spring-anything.

                (If my lifespan holds true to my genetics, that places me in…early August? But my male parent is failing fast at only 90-ish and my mom died early, so they broke pattern. A few leaves may have already fallen!)

    • I’ve been adding audio for quite a while, Andrew. I decided to do it because I do compose most of my work for the ear, and love to play with set traditional forms—which were meant to be recited, after all, more than read. This poem was a rondeau in early stages and became something less obviously so as it developed. Thanks for stopping by to read!

  4. Freeing Cynthia – as I can imagine the dried old bush, all of a sudden signing of Springs desire to sprout yellow. Instead I see a vase with a cutting bringing joy of the newness of Spring, early arrival in a closed house for the winter months. Love this ~

    • I wonder how you would paint forced forsythia, Mary….probably in a vase before a window with a snow scene outside….but the little star flowers are so delicate….it would probably have a Japanese “feel” to it. Anyway, spring has finally arrived. There are lovely crocus blossoms by a large stone just outside my kitchen window. We can now look forward to summer, which, as you know, is usually pretty nice around here. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. I love flowers indoors, but I often hover in the garden unable to decide whose life to cut short. Even as I prune in the garden, I sometimes have a momentary worry about whether plants sense things. In winter I bring in winter jasmine and the red stems of cornus alba. The cornus (cornus, spellcheck, not corns) lasts for a month or more. It buds and leaves appear while stems in the garden are still bare. Our forsythia is in full bloom, even going over now. It was in the garden we before lived here, so is 40 or more years old, it never minds how much I cut it back.

    • It seems the climate in my part of New England is a bit more polar than yours in Old England. I’m pretty sure the jasmine would expire in our winter, and the forsythia still is not in flower outdoors, nor are the pussywillows, which I adore. (a pussywillow was planted as a memorial to a beloved deceased cat one year, and is now fertilized by the essences of several pet cats). My winter forcing is pretty much restricted to imported bulbs, like narcissus, amaryllis, and hyacinths. Forsythia, with such a delicate flower, is a tough old thing, isn’t it….and enjoys a good haircut! It is we humans who imagine we might be “cutting life short”, but then, imagination is a wonderful thing….and does go on, and on…

        • You always get me to put on my thinking cap, Anna! As for the stanzas, yes, let’s let them be. But the forsythia is probably more enhanced than harmed by pruning. This poem is just a meditation on the spent branches I took in to the house to “force” premature bloom…thoughts of what happens when they are discarded, dead and buried, so to speak, instead of spending another springtime on the mother bush.

          I love, love, love, lilacs. Someone once told me it’s okay to prune them (and take those wonderful, fragrant blooms for a bouquet) and that it makes them stronger, and more flowering the next season. So someone once told me, and I choose to believe them! πŸ™‚

  6. Your sympathy for the poor Forsythia is quite thoughtful Cynthia! πŸ™‚ It’s rare that I do gardening or pruning of any kind these days. But when I have, I’ve always felt a little mean, cutting a living thing down to size, and wonder if plants feel pain. 😦 I’m probably just a bit too sensitive! πŸ˜‰ I do hope it blooms again very soon. Or is it a winter blooming plant? Don’t know anything about Forsythia’s.

    • The forsythia is a rather common, woody bush that is quite hardy around here….and lovely to see all over the place in spring. Some people trim and groom it to the size and shape they like for their landscape, and otherwise. when left to its own whim, it grows long, lovely branches that dip and bow like the willow. In spring it sprouts zillions of small yellow, star-shaped flowers, thus giving the bush a golden appearance. If you take a few bare branches into the house in late winter, and place them in water the yellow flowers will bloom, ahead of their natural time—a portent of spring! Then, of course, as the poem says, those branches are done… or maybe not. But the mother plant thrives, still, outdoors, and is probably the healthier for the pruning. This poem came out of a meditation on all that. πŸ™‚

  7. Forcing Forsythe to do the right thing: marry the girl. Oh, how the mind of a feeble gardener, inured by farragoes of festooning flowers, plays fictional games with nomenclature–among other things!

    • Like sunshine you are, on what is a dismal rainy day here, because your comments always tickle the funny bone! Do you remember the Archie Comics? Well, Archie’s seemingly dimwitted buddy, Jughead, actually had a real name: Forsythe…Forsythe Pendleton Jones. Why do I remember this after all these years? Beats me. I guess one person’s farrago prompts another person’s hodgepodge—among other things.

  8. Forsythe Pendleton Jones: Forsythe does sound so noble and therefore the perfect name (nomenclature again, among other things) for a Jughead, at least in the minds of comics and fools, which I happen to know a lot about, since my natural predilection is to subvert and, on sunny days, to linger among flowers and rare ferns that have names, comic or not, that are a mellifluous (or not) mouthful–and a bonus is always awarded for alliterative charm as you, a rain besotted poet, must know).

    • Ah nomenclature…wonderful to think about. Adam and Eve were lucky; they got to name everything in the world, while we poor newbies were born into a world where everything seems already to have a name. But the tower of babel ruined all that, and now we have botanical latin—quite handy for the world at large, though unknown by the world at large. Plain folk are stuck with “bleeding heart” and “skunk cabbage”, among other things.

      But I have visited your magician’s garden, my dear Prospero, on more than one occasion, and I admire your taste and cultivation of the exotic…how you hang out with Theobroma cacao, Heliconia rostrata, Dionella muscipula, etc. They are an impressive lot. I’d probably end up calling them Theo, Helen, and Diane— too familiar, I know. Still, there’s a certain longing always to move past the nomenclature into the souls of things.

  9. Bloomin’ marvellous, Cynthia. On ‘brume’, I like that word a lot, unusual – but not at all forced here. I also like how you repeat the ‘bloom’ rhyme all the way through the poem. Well crafted indeed.

    • I’m glad you like the “-ooms”, and think that they work. Have been fascinated lately with composing in strict traditional forms, then messing with them for the sake of the sights and sounds of our own time’s taste in poetry. This one was born a rondeau, but, like the rest of us, seems to have become somethng else!

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