Zinnias–Thoughts, and A Poem

Dried zinnias from Lovin’ Mama Farm –left in a hot apartment, still gorgeous

Very soon, my dear writing compatriot and beloved friend, Sue Cummings, will be publishing a memoir about how she became a writer; specifically, how she became a writer through the magic of the July Women’s Writing Retreats up at Pyramid Life Center in Paradox, New York. I have attended retreats there since 2014, and met Sue in 2015 on a sun dappled path near the lake.

This July, several of us had hoped to attend in person (for the first time since 2019) but the B variants of Covid-19 struck many in our online writing community and struck hard, with serious health implications for everyone who contracted it. We decided caution was best.

Four of us met remotely and wrote and wrote in the intense July heat of our respective homes (New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey and Maryland). We came to understand that the experience of Adirondack summer writing camp had been planted deep within us. We brought forward those memories of the loons and owls and osprey–along with the serious intent of our fellow women writers from over the years–and created new memories and new writing.

View across the swimming beach at Pyramid Life Center, Paradox NY.

Here is the poem that came to me, almost whole, one Wednesday morning before our group met for lunch on Zoom.

Zinnias

Unlock the door
Click-thunk.
Enter the heat warily
Sniff the air for dead mice
Listen for wasp intruders
Smell only warm old wood.

Gaze on zinnias
crazy-haired, crisp curled petals
not lush pink, not glowing gold
anymore.

Swirly whirly on their way to done
on their way to death--
brown-gray leaks from the leaves.

Two days before
eight zinnias gleamed green-stalked
wrapped in brown paper
cut ends dripped
on the quick walk back
from the farmers market

(that bustle of unmasked throngs)
While white-snouted I
won't let go
they have let go
of sense
of wariness
to splash open faced to sunshine,
dogs, tamales, tubs of lemonade
thick lemon slices that float in sugar ice.

Sue wants to include this poem in her book, and as soon as her memoir is available, I will post the details here in the blog.

Hurray for the support of fellow writers, and our communities far and wide. That week of writing and reading with others has rejuvenated me; therefore, I will say–“More to follow, from me as well!”

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