Moonflower

by Tasha Cotter

“…when a woman’s skin glows white.”    
          —Chiyo-ni, 18th century Japanese Poet

     

Something about the summer won’t winter.
Will never be blanketed with ice.
It should be forbidden—
the way a woman’s skin glows white
as she sees love was a failed escape—
a slow turning under a leaf.
A wind passing through the night
bloom, not meaning to carry
the faint memory of heat
and musk in its dream-like rush away.

Tasha Cotter is the author of the poetry collection, Some Churches (Gold Wake Press, 2013). You can find her online at www.tashacotter.com. She lives in Lexington, Kentucky where she works in education. You can follow her on twitter: @TashCotter.

Tell us (please!) anything you can about the origins, writing, revision, and/or anything else about this piece.

    This poem really began with my discovery of a person: Chiyo-ni, the great 18th century Japanese Haiku Poet. She is widely regarded as one of the greatest Poets of her time. And it was that line of hers, “…when a woman’s skin glows white,” that set the poem in motion. It was one of those lines that jumped out at me and it sparked an idea.

    With this poem I was interested in creating something delicate and quiet, while infusing it with a tension just below the surface. I’m always interested in the idea of movement when I write poetry—some lines feel like a rushing wind and others are much quieter as if they are creating a foundation for the weather around it.

    The last line was what I struggled with the most. I so badly wanted to put the word “away” on a line of its own, but I just didn’t like how it looked—lonesome, like an afterthought. Ultimately I kept it with that last final image. And the poem kept the sense of quiet I was after while retaining that disjunctive quality I wanted all along. I think I just liked adding that level of interest between the “rush” and “away”—I wanted to take the word “away” away from the poem. And I liked the potential impact of putting it all on its own, but in the end, how it looked visually just didn’t feel right.

    Overall, I’m happy with the poem. If you’ve ever been around Moonflower (and you can find them all over the south in the spring) you know how quickly they can invade anything, but they’re beautiful, delicate flowers whose blooms are no bigger than my palm. They only make themselves known at night. And what a shame—they’re perfectly sensuous and simple. Yet they completely fade into spring.

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