True story

Thanks to a prompt from Read, Write, Poem and a half-memory of a story someone told me once, and I’ll swear it’s true… I wrote a poem today at lunch. The final image came to me with brilliant clarity as I sat reformatting the calendar, and I carried it down with me. Our lunch room has good tall windows, mostly full of sky, for writing by.

The British garden club makes a naked calendar

Hail the gentle ladies on a fine May morning
who created a new scheme to raise funds.
Among their arching borders of roses
and roses, Levant, Gloire de Dijon, Bridal Pink,
they sat and stooped and bent over
a watering can. Who raised the first arm
of a neat beige jumper? Who slid
the first wool over her cropped head
and lowered the first hem to the grass?
The earth crumbed over their feet,
and on the cool pine boards of the sun room
they appraised slowly their mature skin.
Did the teapot hold more heat, held
in a bare hand, with the oak chair
cool on bare legs, stuck with sweat
to the small of the back?
They said this was the hardest part.
They had never seen each other so
or any women sweat since birth.
And now, after the years of speeches,
seed catalogs, planned beds in winter,
to drink tea laced with orange, clove,
and lean a bare midriff against
the planed table gave them grace.
Did they speak, unrecorded,
as the water poured from the spout,
or laugh a good, round laughter
as the first woman knelt in silence
in the turned earth, with the sun a dazzle
over a shoulder, and the full-throated roses
open and lifting from her breasts
in the sweet wild air?

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12 Responses to “True story”

  1. jillypoet Says:

    “to drink tea laced with orange, clove,
    and lean a bare midriff against
    the planed table gave them grace.”

    Such beautiful lines! And the last two lines! You captured the spirirt of these ladies with grace, and very sensual prose! So much earth and garden. I’m pretty sure I heard about these ladies, but now I want to google them and see their “bravery”!

  2. Dave Says:

    This is really good. (I’ll have to give it another read in the morning – too tired to do it justice now.)

  3. paisley Says:

    this is a delight… not only to read,, but to visualize… what daring women,, and what a quaint idea by todays standards… it almost makes me wanna say….. awwwwwww……

    thank you for sharing this….

  4. gautami tripathy Says:

    Those words are so very visual. I felt as if a movie is unfolding in front of my eyes.

    ode for convoluted crevices

  5. Rachel Says:

    A wonderful poem! So many delicious lines here.

    And it is indeed a true story. Emily used to own the calendar, I think. The ladies did it to raise funds for leukemia research after one of their husbands died from the disease. Here‘s a lovely NYTimes article about it…

  6. AnthonyNorth Says:

    Surrounded by British gardens in the heart of rural England, this made me feel right at home.

  7. Dave Says:

    I’m impressed that you were able to bang this out on your lunch break – way to go! The ending is particularly good, but the whole thing is quite vivid.

  8. Linda Jacobs Says:

    One beautiful description after another! And all done with dignity and respect!

  9. chicklegirl Says:

    The lines were all beautiful, word choice spot-on, and written with such humor and grace.

  10. SweetTalkingGuy Says:

    A nice visual account of this newsworthy story, well written!

  11. deb Says:

    I love how well-tuned your language is to the story. I particularly liked all the roses’ names and how fully sensual the entiregarden became.

  12. sister AE Says:

    This whole piece has such grace! And though it begs to be read (more than once) it is paced so well, with a tentative-but-sure tempo, that it is perfectly unhurried. I’ll be back to read this again.

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