A Sunset with Poppies


There is a sadness everywhere present
but impossible to point to, a sadness that hides in the world
and lingers. You look for it because it is everywhere.
When you give up, it haunts your dreams
with black pepper and blood and when you wake
you don’t know where you are.

But then you see the poppies, a disheveled stand of them.
And the sun shining down like God, loving all of us equally,
mountain and valley, plant, animal, human, and therefore
shouldn’t we love all things equally back?
And then you see the clouds.

The poppies are wild, they are only beautiful and tall
so long as you do not cut them,
they are like the feral cat who purrs and rubs against your leg
but will scratch you if you touch back.
Love is letting the world be half-tamed.
That’s how the rain comes, softly and attentively, then

with unstoppable force. If you
stare upwards as it falls, you will see
they are falling sparks that light nothing only because
the ground interrupts them. You can hear the way they’d burn,
the smoldering sound they make falling into the grass.

That is a sound for the sadness everywhere present.
The closest you have come to seeing it
is at night, with the window open and the lamp on,
when the moths perch on the white walls,
tiny as a fingernail to large as a Gerbera daisy
and take turns agitating around the light.

If you grasp one by the wing,
its pill-sized body will convulse
in your closed palm and you can feel the wing beats
like an eyelid’s obsessive blinking open to see.
But now it is still light and the blackbirds are singing
as if their voices are the only scissors left in this world.

-Jennifer Grotz, "Poppies".

Summer is a strange beast here in Western Australia. You spend much time bathed in humidity and a cloud of unbearable heat. You complain, and mumble and groan. You start to resent the bubbly face of the weather woman who proclaims yet another day of stifling heat and another night of restless sleep. You start to contemplate Siberia as an attractive alternative. Your brain and body feel drained by their environment. But then, in the middle of washing the dishes in the sink, you pause, and stare out the window at a summer sunset. The sky looks like candy floss, like you could reach out and touch it. Suddenly, all the warmth you've been dreading seems indescribably beautiful. So you clean the detergent soap from your hands, take a chair and a poem, and read beneath the blanket of this warmth. For five minutes, you and summer are suddenly friends, because what could be better than reading about untamed poppies and a restless love under the enveloping intimacy of a disappearing summer sky?