Wake: Up to Poetry
Poem of the Week: “Snowdrops” by Paula Meehan
Snowdrops are small white flowers which bloom at the colder times of the year, in late winter or early spring. Although they are native to continental Europe and the Middle East, they have spread across the world as a symbol of warm weather and a season of rebirth to come. In “Snowdrops,” Paula Meehan uses the language of spring to reframe death as generative rather than destructive. Meehan captures the power objects have as symbols to hold feelings and spark memories for us through the images of festivals and sunlight that describe the flowers. The power of these images as reminders of a dying friend leaves readers of this poem with a bittersweet feeling.
So long trying to paint them, failing
to paint their shadows on the concrete path.
They are less a white than a bleaching out of green.
If you go down on your knees
and tilt their petals towards you
you’ll look up under their petticoats
into a hoard of gold
like secret sunlight and their
three tiny striped green awnings that lend a
kind of frantic small-scale festive air.
It is the first day of February
and I nearly picked a bunch for you,
my dying friend, but remembered in time
how you prefer to leave them
to wither back into the earth;
how you tell me it strengthens the stock.