What's the story, morning glory?

Now that the school year has begun, I'm back to being a reluctant morning person.  (In my fantasy life, I start writing at about 9 at night in my garret overlooking Paris, and I go to bed just as the sun starts streaking the sky with magenta.)  But there's an upside to having to get up early, a cool, dewy morning beauty that somehow never fails to surprise me. Plus, if I drag myself outside early enough, I get to see the faces of the morning glories that have lately overtaken our yard.

Morning glories fascinate me because they're pretty in exactly that same fresh, dewy way that mornings are pretty.  But they're pushy little monsters, crowding out everything else in the garden, wrapping themselves around all the other plants, shouting hey, notice me, me, me!

A while back, I wrote a poem in which these greedy climbers played a prominent role, standing in for all those things I've desired that have turned out to be more complicated than expected:

What I Wanted
The pear tree I wanted
for its blossoms, its abundance,
bears long-necked odalisques in flimsy coats,
too hard all summer and then too soft,
a pulp that summons wasps. 
Nothing's left to arrange in a blue-glazed bowl. 

The morning glories we planted
for their tender faces, their genteel leaves,
lasso sunward up fenceposts, scale the swingset,
their tendrils rising overnight
to bind and strangle every upright thing
in this square plot.  Mowed down,
their numbers double.  I can't change
the morning glories, the pear tree;
can't banish the wasps, or learn to like
their dartlike bodies zeroing in,
their hunger so much simpler than my need
to trim each object into pretty shapes:
hedges squared, wildflowers tamed,
roses trained to the trellis,
and stripped of thorn.

This poem and more like it can be found in my first collection, Skin, just rereleased in paperback by Texas Tech University Press.




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