Bonsai

"To scale all love down
To a cupped hand’s size"
Edith Tiempo ~ Bonsai

Even now there is a mote of rage
behind these cool blue eyes – some rouge
perhaps has rubbed in over years
redness lessened to a small hot spot
the way volcanoes lie low
smouldering, mouldering
in uncanny silence

Remember how you took the offering
with open arms? All green and springy
in that first fabulous flush. The following year
made too much growth to carry round
but a few lopped, sacrificial branches served
to sever the glow of growing enthusiasm
after that it all scaled down like Alice, pruned
pared and cut to size, amputated
at the root to fit the pretty, shallow porcelain

I imagine you nurture this memory still
on a cold, back bedroom windowsill
and catching sight of it remark
at how the fleshy bark has aged
admire the twists, wired in so cunningly
and seeing sweet succulence emerge
each Spring, recall – but come the fall
know that flaming crimson is an all
consuming conflagration, still smouldering
on a late November bonfire

I'm late with Sarah's Poetics prompt "Red" so am catching up at Open Link Night where anything goes as long as it's poetry

27 Comments on “Bonsai

  1. Nice lines: “recall – but come the fall
    know that flaming crimson is an all
    consuming conflagration”

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  2. The volcano metaphor is so evocative, Laura, and I love the contrast of the ’mote of rage / behind these cool blue eyes’. I’ve never owned a bonsai, but I find the idea of taming and pruning a tree into tiny submission cruel, prefer to see trees grow to their full potential, and you’ve summed that up perfectly in the lines:
    ‘…a few lopped, sacrificial branches served
    to sever the glow of growing enthusiasm
    after that it all scaled down like Alice, pruned
    pared and cut to size, amputated
    at the root to fit the pretty, shallow porcelain’.
    I love the final lines!

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  3. This is an incredibly strong and potent write, Laura! Especially love the lines: ” The following year
    made too much growth to carry round but a few lopped, sacrificial branches served to sever the glow of growing enthusiasm after that it all scaled down.” 💝

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  4. You had me at /on a cold, back bedroom window sill/. This succeeds as a “red poem” and builds a strong metaphor about our conceit and need for control.

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  5. The ultimate tragedy, love pruned and resting in a shallow container for show 😦 Your poem is magnificent, Laura.

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  6. I admire the stunning imagery of the ebb and flow of pruning, blooming and finally seeing the flaming crimson in fall as: late November bonfire. I wish I had one to admire through all the seasons.

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  7. I especially like the first stanza and was hoping for more of a link to it later in the poem. Lovely imagery throughout.

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  8. Such a clever conceit in this – and a twisty tale of love. Particularly liked those off-beat images – the volcano ‘mouldering/ in uncanny silence’ ; the ‘amputated limbs’ . I also liked your use of voice – reminded me of Sylvia Plath – in the third stanza particularly – how the jaded lover knows that love and beauty – no matter how spectacular – is doomed by winter’s certainty. Classic.

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  9. We are always trying to make things fit into spaces they aren’t meant for. The word amputated really flew off the page at me.

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    • Sqare pegs in round holes – love in a cupped hand as the opening quote says. Glad you picked out ‘amputated’ it was one of the most telling

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