A Sunset with Poppies

Tuesday, 7 February 2012


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?


Nancy Baric *negfilm said...

could be better than reading about untamed poppies and a restless love under the enveloping intimacy of a disappearing summer sky.

Sasha said...

I can certainly imagine reading this poem in the light of a setting sun in the summer. In fact, reading this entire post has given me a wonderful glimpse into the hopefully near future.

nancy said...

beautiful poem, beautiful photo, beautiful summertime reflections. I love poetry.
our summer has escaped us here in Adelaide - is Perth still sunny?

Rambling Tart said...

I'm smiling after reading this, smiling as I sit parked right in front of a fan and am still sweating. :-) A massive wall of black clouds is rapidly approaching and I think we're going to have a doozy of a storm shortly. Love this poem. Love the photo. :-)

amy said...

fairy floss sunsets are one of my favourite summer things too. and nectarines for breakfast. and thunderstorms that come out of nowhere and break the heat.

Accidentalwriter said...

An exquisite poem accompanied by a beautiful sunset.....can almost hear the angels singing.

Petra said...

that's a beautiful poem. I live some place that is currently trying to compete with Siberia, so yourw words came at the perfect moment. thank you!

P R I M O E Z A said...

completely evocative, love it.

naomemandeflores said...

I feel you just described the weather here in Rio. If only I could stop everything right now and would go read a poem while watching the sunset...

Camila Faria

B said...

Ah, I love anything to do with Summer, so this post fills me with warmth. The way you describe Australian Summers sounds a lot like Indian Summers, which I am very familiar with. Your final sentence is - well, perfect. The photograph actually transcends perfect. I am in love!

hungryandfrozen said...

Glorious sky, glorious poem. Extreme weather does have its compensation...

Gracia said...

"...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."

I really like this idea, Hila. Thanks for sharing this work by Jennifer Grotz. The notion of the "half-tamed" is just what I needed to read this quiet and restless Wednesday eve.

fifth floor apartment said...

gorgeous writing, as usual :) it's raining snow right now in pittsburgh, and although i loath humidity your summer sounds kind of nice right now.

xo alison

Jane Flanagan said...

This is a beautiful post. I have a similar, cloying relationship with all the seasonal extremities, going a little stir-crazy and losing my sense of comfort in my own skin. But there are always moments, like this, of reconciliation.

Maura said...

I'm in mid-winter here, but I relate so much to your post. Beautifully written, and I adore that poem, thank you.

Naomi Bulger said...

Oh yes, I need to make my peace with the summer, become friends. "Love is letting the world be half-tamed," after all. I also need to read more poetry.

megan said...

so lovely, hila. i agree with the above commenter: reading your blog always makes me want to read more poetry.

Tana said...

'incredibly beautiful' that's the right expression to describe the summer sky. Candy colours,beautiful lines of the clouds, sense of harmony and appeasement.

Denise | Chez Danisse said...

I love that you left the dishes and picked up a poem. You have your priorities in order.

Kate said...

Lovely. You remind me of feeling so uncomfortable in the wet-cloth heat of Kerala that I walked with a constant frown until that sudden moment when the sun dipped just a fraction, that moment before dusk, and I woke back up to the beauty.

Hila said...

Nancy: :)

Sasha: it must be really cold now in your corner of the world.

Nancy: we've had a few spectacular thunderstorms this summer, but yes, it's mostly sunny.

Rambling Tart: haha, that's pretty much been me this summer: parked in front of a fan, sweating :)

Amy: oh Amy, agreed.

Accidentalwriter: or in my case, the fighting Kookaburras in the trees :)

Petra: ah yes, I've been hearing about the ridiculously cold weather in the UK/Europe on the news. I feel guilty for complaining about the heat!

Primoeza/Elizabeth: yes, it's such an evocative poem, I love it.

Camila: so you know exactly how this weather feels :)

B: yes I imagine our summers would be quite similar. And thanks!

hungryandfrozen: yep, it does. But I'll probably start complaining again soon.

Gracia: those are my favourite lines, such truth in them.

Alison: I loath humidity too!

Jane: me too Jane, I'm either too hot or too cold. But then I steal away moments when everything is perfect for a few minutes.

Maura: thank you!

Naomi: poetry is the cure for all ills, along with chicken soup of course :)

Megan: I'm glad, that makes me happy.

Tana: yes, it is like a form of appeasement.

Denise: absolutely, dishes can wait :)

Kate: I wish I was awake to the beauty more often, I think I complain too much about summer!