The Shadiness of Willows

In the glaucous state of becoming,
she recalled the words
she was singing
in her dream:
‘Willow weep for me’.
Her hair was delicate branches,
her thoughts rain-scented leaves.
She had been warned not to cry beneath a willow.
Now it clasped her in an everlasting embrace
and the grooves in its trunk traced the lines of her face.

Kim M. Russell, 2017

Image courtesy of Karin Gustafson.

My response to Imaginary Garden with Real Toads Weekend Mini Challenge – A Glance at Narrative

This weekend Karin says that “Tell me a story” may have been how the literary arts began, that telling stories was the job of much early poetry, whose “poetical” aspects served, in part, as mnemonic devices, so that the poet would either not forget what came next, or could fill in time until he remembered it.

She says an underlying story or even a hint of story can keep a reader engaged in a poem in ways that even beautiful language may not, which is especially true in longer pieces. Narrative can appear in many different ways in a poem–sometimes so slyly that one can’t exactly find the story, but glimpse the mere silhouette of a story, sometimes even just a curve of a silhouette.

Our task is to think of some story in writing our poems; it could be the story of a moment or of a lifetime, and it need not be fully detailed.  The poem may offer a bird’s eye view of the story or the small close-up of a magnifying glass, maybe just a sidelong glimpse.  (It does not have to be a story of human beings; it could be the story of a rock or a raindrop. 

Karin has also shared some of her drawings that could be used in conjunction with our poems, and has tried to pick pieces that have story-like elements.

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33 thoughts on “The Shadiness of Willows

  1. Amen — the word “glaucous” immediately made me think of the Greek man-god Glaukos, who lives at the bottom of the sea and is encrusted with shells. The figure here who lingers by the willow becomes a part of it, is natured by that melancholy hue. Will we see here again, up from that depth?

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    1. I agree with the connotation an there is an undersea feeling to being underneath a willow. It was also the nearest I could get to mouse-grey-bluish-green!

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    1. There certainly is. I hate having ours pruned but we have electricity cables that get tangled up in the top branches. I’m about to go out and do a little weeding around the bottom of the willows this afternoon – it’s beautifully breezy today 😉

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  2. When I think of willows, I think of Ophelia and you capture that weeping willow aspect of the tree and its traditions so very well. Also, there is a feeling (in the drawing too) of someone facing imminent loss–when I look at the drawing I think of someone with chemotherapy or something–it’s not explicit there or in the poem, but there is a such a well-evoked feeling (in the poem) of that kind of deep sadness in the face of life’s difficult realities. Thanks so much, Kim. k.

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  3. Willow weep for me – shades of Chad and Jeremy. but it is true. You have to be careful when you cry under a weeping willow. I love willows. There are a ton down by the creek and they create their own unique shadows. Glaucous – great word.

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