Find the Colors in this Urban Afternoon Reflection
A chimney, breathing a little smoke.
The sun, I can’t see
making a bit of pink
I can’t quite see in the blue.
The pink of five tulips
at five p.m. on the day before March first.
The green of the tulip stems and leaves
like something I can’t remember,
finding a jack-in-the-pulpit
a long time ago and far away.
Why it was December then
and the sun was on the sea
by the temples we’d gone to see.
One green wave moved in the violet sea
like the UN Building on big evenings,
green and wet
while the sky turns violet.
A few almond trees
had a few flowers, like a few snowflakes
out of the blue looking pink in the light.
A gray hush
in which the boxy trucks roll up Second Avenue
into the sky. They’re just
going over the hill.
The green leaves of the tulips on my desk
like grass light on flesh,
and a green-copper steeple
and streaks of cloud beginning to glow.
I can’t get over
how it all works in together
like a woman who just came to her window
and stands there filling it
jogging her baby in her arms.
She’s so far off. Is it the light
that makes the baby pink?
I can see the little fists
and the rocking-horse motion of her breasts.
It’s getting grayer and gold and chilly.
Two dog-size lions face each other
at the corners of a roof.
It’s the yellow dust inside the tulips.
It’s the shape of a tulip.
It’s the water in the drinking glass the tulips are in.
It’s a day like any other.
Peter Gizzi reads this poem aloud and offers a commentary on what he sees here, observing a New York City scape through a wide angle lens, and then, contrasting all this with his micro-observation of the yellow “dust” inside one particular pink tulip.
The poet writes, apparently looking out of his window in New York City.
My view is different, but it’s still FE-BRRRR-UARY!
* * *
Mother sits with her lacquered straw, spring purse on her lap, Grandma with her black satchel, Mark sitting primly for the camera and Aunt Ruthie sporting her congenial teacher face. All gone now, but remain forever in memory as lovers of natural beauty.
(Referencing the first line of James Schuyler’s poem) An antique memento from our home on Anchor Road: incense burning within a “log cabin,” my father’s souvenir from his deer hunting days in a mountain lodge in northern Pennsylvania. The acrid smell from the stick of incense warmed our hearts and tickled our noses on cold winter evenings.
Thank you for sharing your impressions:
the poetry, the people, or the pictures
What lovely memories you have of your family. I personally love tulips. In The Netherlands they display beautiful tulips in the Spring. I’ve been to Amsterdam and wow, those tulips are especially beautiful.
I love the log cabin house where you can burn incense.
It is always amazing to me how looking back in our lives, we gain an appreciation for what we went through, the things we did, and the many people we got the opportunity to know.
This is a lovely post.
Thank you for your appreciative words from Germany, where you commented at noon and I’m replying close to your bedtime. Oh, the marvel of time zones.
I too am looking back at things I took for granted when they happened and now view with nostalgia. Peace and joy to you too, Pat. -D
Good morning, Marian! It is wonderful to find color any time of year, but more of a challenge in February. Your tulips are lovely! And the photo–to remember people you hold in your heart. Perhaps more like April with all the trees in bloom, too?
That’s a charming painting by Ruth.
Merril, your camera and your poetic muse are searching for color these days too, the waning of winter and the not-quite-springtime. Thanks for tuning in, still an early bird! 😀
You’re welcome, Marian. 😊
I love the photo at Hershey Gardens…beautiful.
Photos with people in them draw me in too, especially if they help identify the season. I don’t remember taking this photo of tulips, but I do remember visiting Hershey Gardens in chocolate town, PA. Thanks, Jill! 😀
The chimney breathing smoke is interesting and I can imagine the incense, but I imagine how likely in a NYC landscape the smoke would have been coming from more of an industrial chimney rather than a sweet hunting cabin or souvenir. Some artistic “paintings/poetry” here for us all to enjoy.
We have a lingering snowy landscape here which blew off the roof and back onto our car and driveway but it is wispy thin on the car so going to town and the wellness center won’t be any problem. But my husband goes so strictly by weather forecasts that he’s bewildered that the snow is still hanging here. Supposed to be 60 by tomorrow!
Spring is on its way in Virginia, but winter apparently is loathe to loosen its grip. I hated to drive in snow in Pennsylvania, so I can imagine you and your husband prefer driving on clear roads.
Thanks for the word picture, Melodie! 😀
Thank you for posting the James Schuyler poem. I enjoyed it, particuarly how the last line brings home the notion of the wonder to be found in the everyday. The family photo at Hershey Gardens conveys such a sense of enjoyment of the day. Ruth’s watercolor is just beautiful.
I’m glad you enjoyed every. single, thing. As world news gets crazier and crazier, I pull back and look to nature and fond memories.
The work of James Schuyler was new to me. As a poet yourself, I can see why his verse attracted you. Thanks, Liz! 😀
You’re welcome, Marian! I’m reacting the same way to the current craziness of the world. I’m glad I’m not alone in that.
I love color and try to surround myself in it, so my favorite is your Hershey Gardens photo. Your family is surrounded by beautiful colors and they are so happy. That family photo is a treasure. I also connected with the oil painting by Ruth. It brings me back to winters long ago.
Melanie, I believe you are a snowbird who decided to stay.
I thrive too on color. Can you tell – ha! My Aunt Ruthie took an oil painting class, so my sisters and I each have samples of her work. Right now I’m gazing at an oil painting of Canada geese hanging in my writing studio. Oddly, it uses the same color palette as above, but the pink is in the trees (dogwood?) instead of the sky and a much deeper color too. 😀
By the way, you can find the geese painting here: https://marianbeaman.com/2017/02/28/moments-discovery-your-closet/
I wondered if you had the winter scene in your home, it sounds like you chose the geese, or maybe they chose you. 😊 The color is stronger in that one. Thanks for sharing that link.
Couldn’t resist, Melanie. I think I chose the geese painting because we had just moved to our house by a lake with Canada geese.
Marian, what beautiful, colorful photos. I love tulips. The poem is just perfect. Yet another excellent post. I needed the color on this gray day here in Illinois.
Both my children and their mates lived in Chicago for about ten years. They were happy to return to Florida, but when we visited them in Illinois, I was amazed at the brilliant colors of spring and summer. And especially of autumn, which put on a display we don’t see here. Thanks for commenting, L. Marie. I hope you are having a good week! 😀
Such a colourful blog post, Marian! We are deep in snow and everything is white and blue and grey here! It has its own beauty. There is a snow angel in our back yard, put there by wind and weather and by God for my pleasure. Did you know that if you put copper pennies into the vase of tulips, they will not bend over but remain straight?
I love the beauty of winter up north, especially new-fallen snow. And the bonus: a snow angel from God for your pleasure. What a blessing!
Thanks for commenting here and for the tulip tip. The flowers in my bouquet have already flopped, but I will make a note of it for future reference. You are wise, Elfrieda. I appreciate all this! 😀
Your tulips are lovely. I was given some by a neighbour as a thank you for helping them out. Tulips are my favourite flower. I love the picture of your mom, aunt, brother and grandmother. Preciuos memories.
Darlene, I’m glad tulips are your favourite flower because they’re all over this post. And in your writing too, part of the Amanda series. Have a look at Amanda in Holland: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07L9LVK4J/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i2
Your family are all natural beauties too. Love you tulips. Can’t wait to see mine growing but we have a few more months to wait. They usually pop by May. For now, they’re sleeping under the snow. Tomorrow their blanket gets MUCH deeper. 😉
My dad, a farmer and farm equipment dealer, said that the nitrogen in the snow helped crops, and I imagine also flowers too. Florida would go berserk with a sizable snowfall, but I’d love a day or two of quiet whiteness. Thanks, Jenn! 😀
I would ship you some but I don’t think it would make it. ☺️
Great pictures – I love tulips!
Me too, obviously. Thank you, Barbara! 😀
Another wonderful post that celebrates every day, Marian! Loved the poetry recitation and the photos of spring tulips. But the most profound photo is of your family.
You covered all the bases and listened to the audio too. Thanks, Rebecca. And I do agree with your vote for the family photo. 😀
Unusually we have had two dull and dreary days your tulips in their simplicity brightened my day…Thank you, Marian 🙂
It strikes me that tulips look like upside-down bells, simple and beautiful. I can’t imagine Thailand being dull and dreary, but I’m glad these fanciful flowers brightened your day. May sunshine soon return to the Land of Smiles, Carol! 😀
It can be very occasionally but today again it is not showing its sunny face…Yes, they do Marian like little upside down bells …Thank you for the tulips 🙂
Tulips are one of my wife’s favorite flowers. I may not know that much about flowers, but I do know that. I also know that she appreciates the unexpected surprise rather than copying everyone else on Valentine’s Day.
I have little artistic talent, and thus I admire the work of others. Ruth’s painting is marvelous. Halfway through February already? How did that happen? Have a good rest of the week, Marian!
Yup, halfway through February already, and I realize with chagrin that I’m behind on checking your latest blog post. Gotta fix that!
i wonder if your Valentine “surprise:” to your wife included tulips. Thanks for swinging by this evening, Pete. 😀
I’ve never seen a log cabin incense burner before. I love it!
While the chimney breathing smoke in the poem may be of industrial proportions, my dad’s little incense burner feels nostalgic to me. It probably reminded him of his November respite at a hunting lodge with his buddies years ago. I’m glad you like this, Arlene. Thank you! 😀
Such lovely bright and beautiful colourful photographs Marian thank you! Schuyler’s lines are lovely too. Colour plays a huge role in my life; by that I mean I much appreciate it. I love that pop of red in the snowscape of the oil painting by Aunt Ruth Longenecker. That tree and the tulips in the Hershey Gardens is a clear signal of the majesty of Mother Nature. And the happy family within its bosom. Tulips are such beautiful flowers.I would love to visit Amsterdam (which I have done) but to see the tulip gardens …
You are such a good observer. I’m not a visual artist, but like you, I do appreciate art. Thanks for noticing “the majesty of Mother Nature. And the happy family within its bosom, beautifully stated.”
When we visited Amsterdam, we focused on the Van Gogh gallery and the Rikjsmuseum. No tulips in July. Thanks, Susan! 😀
Hi Marian, a lovely post. I enjoyed the picture of your family members and your aunt’s painting. An excellent poem that I did not know.
I did not know of James Schuyler either. The poem has been in my “gallery” of blog post material for a long time, so I was glad February rolled around when it was appropriate. As a poet yourself, you probably appreciated this poem more than most. Thanks for dropping by again, Robbie! 😀
I like tulips, so I think your photo of a bouquet is delightfully perfect. It’s amazing how flowers and objects can take you back in time. Your incense burner is unique. I have on from my childhood, but it’s a pagoda, just like you’d expect.
You charmingly roll out the unexpected on your blog, which I have come to expect. Yes, a pagoda incense burner makes perfect sense to me, Ally! 😀
Another one of your sensory delights, Marian! I listened to the reading of the poem and to the commentary, adding to my enjoyment. The picture of your four loved ones, all gone now, with their 1960s Mennonite props, is poignant. Your little log cabin reminds me of the Swiss chalet in the center of our dining room table right now, waiting for a chance to make Lydia’s nose twitch and her eyes get wide.
Shirley, thanks for telling me how completely you immersed yourself in this post, both reading and listening.
The longer I live, the more a bun covered with a prayer veiling seems like a “Mennonite prop” to me though I respect those who still practice the tradition. I wonder what you notice about plain people’s garb in the Lititz area nowadays.
And I’m curious about your reference to the Swiss chalet on your dining room table. If it’s an incense burner, it’s another moment of serendipity for us. 😀
It burns oil and makes smoke come out of the chimney.
Expect nose twitch and wide eyes, as you say. Maybe we’ll see her reaction online soon, Shirley!
Such lovely photos and memories Marian . You have so cheered me up after being battered by a storm and no power since Friday 😜 cherryx
Oh, My dear Cherry, let’s hope these good vibes here lead to a let-up in storms and restored electricity where you live. I very much hope you have a heater, a wood stove, a fireplace, or all three. Hugs! ((( )))
We are now restored and have wood burner thank goodness . I know our storms are nothing in comparison to yours but hey ho ! It’s mind blowing when you’re not used to it .Cherryx
A storm is a storm, no matter where. I’m happy to hear that your power is restored. Sometimes, we value most what we take for granted. xox
Thank you for noticing, Luanne! 😀
I must have missed this, Marian. Too many projects flying around in my head. We’ve had our April snow here and I’m taking in the colors of spring–lots of green and yellow and blue. The bluebirds and tree swallows finished their spring search for nesting boxes and all is peaceful as the females build and the males guard to warn when a hawk flies overhead. Blessed spring after another pandemic winter in the northeast.
Green, blue, and yellow are easy on the eyes. I’m glad God didn’t choose to bathe nature in red, which would be hard on the rods and cones of our eyes. Just pops of floral color in the warmer hues.
Thanks for catching me up with your New York spring. I hope next one will be pandemic-free.
And you know, Elaine, you don’t have to reply to every blog post; I would understand if you miss a post or two as I blog weekly. Maybe I’ll reduce my own blog to a bi-monthly one at some point. 😀