Saturday, August 26, 2006

Burning the Orchards

I have been to the Mountain. And while all knowledge gained might not be of equal value, the things I learned this week are golden. Plus, it was fun! We are exhausted, from attending classes from 8:30 am until 9:30 pm for the last five days (which meant getting up at 6 and not getting home until 11, but it was worth it! Twenty-two thousand people attended 1,100 different classes offered at BYU's Education Week. The campus was beautiful, all the flowers were in bloom, the mountains were gorgeous, and the weather was nice. The teachers were fantastic and inspired, letting us hunt and peck around their brains and talents and souls in stuff like Music and the Arts, Films, Writing, Communication Skills, Dance (I don't dance. This is the main reason my husband married me. At least this is what he says), History, Government, Law, and Human Relations. (I took several excellent classes on Middle Eastern Perspectives, Islam, etc.--loved them all!) They had classes on Finance (Boring!) and Literature, and Psychology, and Religion (of course, this being BYU!). I had eight classes a day for five wonderful days! Can't wait for next year....

Anyway. Since I was away I thought I would share another poem for Poetry Thursday, one of mine (not that Walt Whitman's did not fill the bill--hmmmm. What, exactly does that mean:fill the bill?) So here's my POETRY THURSDAY, --Time--pt. 2


Mid-life I discover
the girl is gone-- the house
she lived in
inhabited by strangers.
Is this the crisis
I was led to expect
would unbury itself
from my mother's flesh
and spread like an infection
in an untended orchard?

My father took fruit
from wild trees, cut out the worms,
sugared the remains in honey.
The knobby red pieces drowned
in his sticky bowl like candy.

I used to think those wild pears
and apples bitter, the shriveled
orchard overgrown. This was a place
where men were kept
like yellow dogs in pens.
Like all things
it was transient. The black-haired
bastard boys who stood
at the wire fences,
the slant-eyed women who cried,
unable to embrace this insanity
are faceless and formless now
as the shadows of those skinny trees
they left behind.

The truth is
old orchards must be burnt
with all their worms, and
new trees planted. The strangers
who plant, mid-life,
luckily may find a girl in the ashes,
raise her. At least
she may have her share.
The sleeves of fire
may make her beautiful again.


Maureen said...

Your week sounds absolutely glorious, Pepek. I would love right now to be back at university learning for the sake of learning. Maybe someday I will do that again. It must be so wonderful to live close to BYU and be able to attend classes during their education week. What a great opportunity!

And, your poem: ahhh, an incredibly moving piece today. Your choice of words really paints a picture in my imagination that is exactly like a memory -- seen through a film of time, a mist of years... details half remembered and fading even as the minutes tick by. I love the metaphor of an old, wildish orchard for the way middle age and passing time feels to us, to our aging bodies, to regrets and hopes and living in the moment.

I've been out in the garden pulling weeds, hoeing, digging to transplant overgrown perennials and vines. We don't have an orchard, but I have spent time in "old" orchards - like the ones in your poem - and I know that about starting over ... burning the old wood to make way for new plants. yet. yet there could be a girl in there, waiting to have more air, more light to grow tall and strong.

beautiful, beautiful piece for a gorgeous Saturday. It doesn't matter to me that it's not Thursday. heheh. :-D
take care --

Paul Bunyan said...

Excellent poem. It's nice to have such a talented mom.

BTW,I have seen you dance. To punk rock no less! Unfortunately,with it coming at the time of being a teenager, the memory is burned deep:)...But happily burned.

pepektheassassin said...

PB--you REMEMBER me DANCING to PUNK ROCK no less???? Great! I have no memory of that, however, I am very glad you do! (It must've been quite a sight).

Maureen--thank you so much for such a nice comment. Yes, the week was glorious, even if it almost killed me, and I am looking forward to next year. Manzanar was a concentration camp for Japanese during the war years when I was little. Manzanar, in fact, means "apple orchard" in Spanish. And there were orchards there, planted by those Japanese prisoners.

BessieSnickers said...

The translation of the title, and the orchard's historical context gives me so many more ways to read this poem! Temptation and betrayal are added in new dimension, for example. I'll have to read it a few more times for the full effect, I think. It's a deep one.

k said...


Finance was BORING?!? :-o !!!!!

heh heh!

pepektheassassin said... know.... I am numerically challenged. But I can DANCE, apparently.

Pris said...

That poem is breathtaking. Thanks for posting it.

And your week sounded like a lot of fun.

RavenGrrl said...

ahhh, that gives me a new perspective and makes the piece even better, Pepek. As a reader, I often have a totally different take on a piece given that I am reading and understanding it through the filter of my own experience and my own psyche. I wasn'f familiar with the word Mazanar, so I totally missed that meaning of the piece. Oh well - now I have another context with which to understand your poem on a deeper level. Thanks for sharing that tidbit of history.

chiefbiscuit said...

Love the poem ... I needed to read it over a couple of times - but it's worth it because there's a lot in it; very compact and not a word wasted - which I like very much.

twitches said...

Gorgeous poem - love every word of that last stanza.

Nienke Hinton said...

How exciting the education week sounds!
I love your poem, Pepek! Very strong and resonated deeply with me.

Tammy said...

I've been catching up this morning and was thrilled you enjoyed your time at BYU :)

Loved the poems! You have a way with words and Walt's not so bad either.

Don't let your hubby know you are a punk rocker. LOL


pepektheassassin said...

Thank you one and all for your comments. This old wild orchard that is me is certainly in need of renovation. I look forward to the day when everything lost is restored. Perhaps the girl will return. I have a "perfect brightness of hope" that this is true.

wendylou who? said...

i stared at the photo for a long time.Very telling photo...perfect mood for the poem. I knew you would be a life long learner! No wonder you are so interesting!Welcome back.

Tammy said...

LOL Manny's in the pictures in upper left sidebar :)

paris parfait said...

Sounds like a fantastic week, full of wonders to absorb. And that poem is beautiful and bittersweet. Well done!