by Kendra Jeong-Espinosa

She never saw the marigolds, the blooms that grew today,
Releasing airy flecks of gold that rose into the grey;
     Their petals in the sunlight burned
          and then, as ash, to earth returned
     As if to leave a parting word 
Before they blew away.
She would have loved the marigolds, although she lost the chance
To run among them, daring, bold; lie tossed among the plants.
     And since she fell by iron will
          ---a virtue to admire, still---
     Her startling absence sends a chill
Across the vast expanse.
Enlighten me, oh marigolds, about this scene you've shown:
The queen is gone, oh marigolds, so who will claim the throne?
     Her savior came, but came too late---
          sweet irony and bitter fate,
     And though the wailers begged to wait,
She drifted off alone.
I sauntered through those marigolds, beyond their haunting glow
They taunted me, those marigolds, for what went on below?
     A root held fast to how we were---
          A path to bring me back to her?
     Or is our pact a debt incurred
That I forever owe?
(I guess we’ll never know.)
And if she saw those marigolds, our views may not agree:
Through darkened lens, they're terrible, as omens ought to be.
     But daybreak will advance and then
          Inhale the pallor cast again
     And feed the field of marigolds---
That she will never see.


Thank you all for reading! Whether you’re commenting, lurking, or doing the blogger quid pro quo thing, know that I appreciate each and every one of you for going through this journey with me. Bless you, bless you all.

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13 thoughts on “Marigolds/Cempasúchil

  • September 8, 2020 at 11:47 pm

    I didn’t want to interrupt Kenny’s poem with captions, so I’m putting them in the comments:
    — ‘Grew’ works rather than ‘had grown’ because flowers grow instantaneously in the game world. That’s what I tell myself.
    — You can replace the second line in the second stanza with ’cause he’s been kicking ass as the ambassador of France.’
    — Yeah, the last stanza kinda metaphorically implies the sun is wearing sunglasses. Remember in third grade when you drew the sun wearing sunglasses? What’s that shit about?
    — While writing, I asked Simister, ‘what’s the Shelley poem that goes, the river leads to the ocean, lemme smash?’ It’s this one. I stand by that summary.
    — However, Shelley would not let W. Somerset Maugham smash.
    — There’s a square with nipples in our new Gnome Dome Mandala title image. You might be wondering, what’s a square with nipples doing there? It’s a self-portrait drawn by someone I hooked up with. Simister thinks he’s hilarious and threw him in the mandala.
    — Sorry about the delays. Poetry is hard. Depression is hard. I might come back and edit this thing later. Arrrgh.

  • September 9, 2020 at 1:29 am

    Poetry is hard, and this poem succeeds. It reached that moment for me that poems do when they stop becoming words on the page and become poems. Theory structure becomes translucent and the feelings shine. This was oddly hopeful in its suspended resolution.

    • September 10, 2020 at 5:05 pm

      Whew! Thank you!! Maybe it helps that I’m not particularly trained in theory. Or maybe it would help, who knows. Have to remind myself that the people I look up to are considered some of the greatest poets to have ever lived, so it’s okay if my second public poem isn’t quite up to those standards. It’s still a relief to have it done!

      The marigolds are my first custom mesh (… no more for a while, please) and the hill is The Bluffs but with terrain happening.

  • September 9, 2020 at 1:30 am

    Also, that’s a lot of flowers, and did you build the hill?

  • September 10, 2020 at 6:44 am

    Before I read the poem I found the hill of marigolds beautiful. But now, well, I think Claudia will like them if she saw them, but I don’t because of what it speaks to me. This poem is lovely even if the message is heartbreaking. I’m not sure what there is to edit. I loved it.

    • September 10, 2020 at 5:16 pm

      Wow, I’m glad to hear it resonated with you! And that you have so much hope for Claudia, still 🙂

  • September 10, 2020 at 5:36 pm

    It’s lovely, really. I’m having trouble choosing a favorite stanza. The imagery is wonderfully evocative and everything flows so, so well. Kudos to you!

    Looking forward to what you have in store for Book III.

    (Why did we all draw the sun wearing sunglasses?)

  • September 13, 2020 at 11:00 am

    Alright, so I thought I was ready for this book to come to an end, but I wasn’t really, so I admit to delaying. The characters had their funeral, and it was ostensibly about letting and go and saying goodbye, and I nodded along the whole time saying, “yes, come on now, y’all, it’s time to let go.”

    If I’m truthful, though, in my heart, I was saying, “Good for you, not for me.”

    Maybe I’m more like Kendra than I realized.

    I hesitate to say don’t touch any of these words because I am someone who rewrites and makes edits long after a thing is “done.” Still, though, I don’t think I would touch this. I’ll save my thoughts on the story and the discussion questions for the forums, and I will try not to write an essay (but like…nor promises). The thing you’ve written here…this was cathartic. This was cathartic and beautiful with that little sharp stab that I’ve come to love in reading your work.

    That line, “And since she fell by iron will,” I keep repeating it. It does something really incredible in that it both pushes forward the ambiguity of her mother’s death while also making each interpretation seem plausible. Therefore you feel like you’ve gotten an answer when really, you haven’t. She fell by iron will because she was determined to end things here and not come back from death? She fell by iron will because she was so committed to her “just keep smiling!” victim persona?

    Could be none. Could be either.

    Maybe I’m feeling that way because, by that point in the poem, I was beginning to let go of the characters. Not forget them, mind you, but put them in that box in my head where they are complete and available for reference.

    “And though the wailers begged to wait, She drifted off alone.”

    Poetry is so, so hard. Writing is so, so hard. A brain that does not want to obey, whether its depression or anxiety or whatever is so, so hard. But you wrote a thing that made me as a reader feel settled in my bones. And now I’m okay with what happened. I’m ready to go on whatever next adventures remain for the ones left behind.

    Oh, and can I talk about this mesh? Like, my dude, this is stunning. I cannot even fathom how many banana’s level hours of work it took, but holy hell. I don’t mean to undo all my writing about your words with a: BUT LOOK AT THE MESH THO, I just…I would be remiss if I did not yell about it.

    Whew. Sigh. Gasp. That was one hell of a ride. I have so much to say about this book as a whole, but for now, I just want to be that one weirdo in the audience clapping and laughing maniacally.

    I delayed for no reason. You’ve brought me full circle. This was a goddamn joy, and the literary desires of my dark little heart have been assuaged.

    • September 15, 2020 at 8:48 pm

      Whoa—this is one of those times where I’m just speechless. I can’t respond to this. One of the people I admire most said that poetry was all about parsimony, where every word had to be deliberate—so for someone to come up with an interpretation of a single line that neatly summarizes the last two chapters? Speechless. I can’t. You’re reminding me what’s really important here, which is the emotional impact on the reader. And it’s more rewarding to connect to people like this than to be perceived as a ‘good’ writer, so I should remember that instead of staring at internal rhymes. Lol.

      (Side note: the parts I want to change are mostly individual words. For example, in that bit you cited, ‘wailers’ and ‘drifted off’ went through several iterations, and I’m not quite happy with either. Internal rhymes carry through on every stanza but this one (grew today/into the grey/blew away, not to mention sauntered/beyond/haunting/taunted/on be-); that’s why. And don’t get me started on the first stanza.)

      The mesh.

      Never again.

      Ah, let’s settle down and move on, then. Because now I have the energy to work on Haunted. AAAAAHHHH

      • September 16, 2020 at 7:26 pm

        Me, chanting Haunted in the background over and over again because my heart wants it!!!

        Okay, I feel you on the individual words thing. Sometimes it is nice just to keep tinkering with it until it does what you want. Internal rhyming always feels like a fever dream to me. I love it, I’m always impressed by it, I cannot make it happen for the life of me.

        Squee. Yes. YAS. I figured it out because I was in good hands with the author. Bravo.

        Haunted. Haunted. Haunted. Haunted.

  • October 28, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    Ah, see this is the one time where I’ll not leave you with a wall of text for a change. Not because I didn’t enjoy the poem – I thought it was beautiful – but because with prose, I go ahead and dissect and analyse, but poetry is all about feeling to me. I can go on and on about analysing characters and their intent, poems are all about going inward, and I’m absolutely terrible at verbalising my emotions, because half-the time it incomprehensible colourful goo. So please forgive if I don’t offer much feedback, again, it’s not because I didn’t find the poem touching, on the contrary. I’ll probably be back to reread it a couple of times. Loved the accompanying visuals too!

    Well… what a ride. I can’t believe I’m caught up. Thank you for this thought-provoking journey. I look forward to Book III.

    • October 29, 2020 at 3:54 pm

      Namaste, dawg. You made it through and you’re all set for Book III!

      (I hear you on the poetry. One time I showed this to someone who analyzes poetry for a living—because I apparently hate myself, I don’t know—and they didn’t respond for an entire day.)

  • October 2, 2022 at 1:01 pm

    Gorgeous! Your prosody sounds so natural and effortless, but I can only imagine how much work this was! And I like how the shape of the poem mimics its prosody and emotional rise and fall.

    I like the haunting “(I guess we’ll never know.)” echoing in the background. Also, “she fell by iron will” – ugh, my heart – and the symbolism of “root” in “…what went on below? / A root held fast to how we were—” evoking flowers, the underworld, and ancestral connections. I also like the recurring motifs of suns, death flowers/marigolds, yellow/grey, inhalation…

    This poem felt dreamlike and bittersweet in its depictions of ephemeral beauty. (Nothing marigold can stay… ?) Strikes the right cathartic emotional chords summarizing this book. I said it once and I’ll say it again. Gorgeous!

    Ooh, maybe now’s the time to ask a question I’ve had for a looong time: Why spell it “grey”?


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