Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, SONG:SO WHY DOES THIS DEAD CARNATION, by HAYDEN CARRUTH



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SONG:SO WHY DOES THIS DEAD CARNATION, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: So why does this dead carnation hold
Last Line: From the useless past a kind of present power
Subject(s): Carnations; Mummies


So why does this dead carnation hold
particular charm? Ten days ago
it was fresh, a bright, vibrant red,
but now has lost its gleam, and the fold
of its petals has loosened. It's like a flower
in a painting, or an ordinary imitation
in paper or cloth. One would have said
it is useless, yet I feel a kind of power.

Were they right, the Egyptians, to mummify
cadavers? I've pinned the carnation
upside down to my bulletin board
the way Kazuko used to pin roses, to let it
dry completely, I'm not sure why.
But I know my frightened mind can cower
to see my brown-spotted had moving toward
uselessness, though it still has a kind of power.

From moment to moment the world becomes
memory, a still life, what the French
Call nature morte. No embalmer
could make my hand lifelike for an hour
after its gone. But I'll keep the dry
carnation anyway, the best I can do
to abstract our existence and wrench
from the useless past a kind of present power.


Used with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, P.O. Box 271, Port Townsend, WA
98368-0271, www.cc.press.org




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