Nothing Stays Put

Amy Clampitt

 

In memory of Father Flye, 1884-1985

The strange and wonderful are too much with us.
The protea of the antipodes--a great,
globed, blazing honeybee of a bloom--
for sale in the supermarket! We are in
our decadence, we are not entitled.
What have we done to deserve
all the produce of the tropics--
this fiery trove, the largesse of it
heaped up like cannonballs, these pineapples, bossed
and crested, standing like troops at attention,
these tiers, these balconies of green, festoons
grown sumptuous with stoop labor?
The exotic is everywhere, it comes to us
before there is a yen or a need for it. The green-
grocers, uptown and down, are from South Korea.
Orchids, opulence by the pailful, just slightly
fatigued by the plane trip from Hawaii, are
disposed on the sidewalks; alstroemerias, freesias
fattened a bit in translation from overseas; gladioli
likewise estranged from their piercing ancestral crimson;
as well as, less altered from the original blue cornflower
of the roadsides and railway embankments of Europe, these
bachelor's buttons. But it isn't the railway embankments
their featherweight wheels of cobalt remind me of, it's
a row of them among prim colonnades of cosmos,
snapdragon, nasturtium, bloodsilk red poppies,
in my grandmother's garden: a prairie childhood,
the grassland shorn, overlaid with a grid,
unsealed, furrowed, harrowed and sown with immigrant grasses,
their massive corduroy, their wavering feltings embroidered
here and there by the scarlet shoulder patch of cannas
on a courthouse lawn, by a love knot, a cross stitch
of living matter, sown and tended by women,
nurturers everywhere of the strange and wonderful,
beneath whose hands what had been alien begins,
as it alters, to grow as though it were indigenous.
But at this remove what I think of as
strange and wonderful, strolling the side streets of Manhattan
on an April afternoon, seeing hybrid pear trees in blossom,
a tossing, vertiginous colonnade of foam, up above--
is the white petalfall, the warm snowdrift
of the indigenous wild plum of my childhood.
Nothing stays put. The world is a wheel.
All that we know, that we're
made of, is motion.
 
From The Collected Poems of Amy Clampitt, published by Alfred A. Knopf. Copyright © 1997. Used with permission from the Estate of Amy Clampitt.

Poems by This Author

A Hedge of Rubber Trees by Amy Clampitt
The West Village by then was changing; before long
A Hermit Thrush by Amy Clampitt
Nothing's certain. Crossing, on this longest day,
A Silence by Amy Clampitt
past parentage or gender
Beach Glass by Amy Clampitt
While you walk the water's edge,
Easter Morning by Amy Clampitt
a stone at dawn
Exmoor by Amy Clampitt
Lost aboard the roll of Kodac-
Fog by Amy Clampitt
A vagueness comes over everything,
On the Disadvantages of Central Heating by Amy Clampitt
cold nights on the farm, a sock-shod
Salvage by Amy Clampitt
Daily the cortege of crumpled
Syrinx by Amy Clampitt
Like the foghorn that's all lung,
The Sun Underfoot Among the Sundews by Amy Clampitt
An ingenuity too astonishing
Vacant Lot with Pokeweed by Amy Clampitt
Tufts, follicles, grubstake


Further Reading

Related Poems
Lines to a Nasturtium
by Anne Spencer
Stet Stet Stet
by Ange Mlinko
this kind of fire
by Charles Bukowski
Poems about Flowers
Littlefoot, 19, [This is the bird hour]
by Charles Wright
Still Another Day: I
by Pablo Neruda
A January Dandelion
by George Marion McClellan
A Red, Red Rose
by Robert Burns
a woman had placed
by Anne Blonstein
Advice to a Prophet
by Richard Wilbur
Ah! Sunflower
by William Blake
Asphodel, That Greeny Flower [excerpt]
by William Carlos Williams
Astigmatism
by Amy Lowell
At Baia
by H. D.
Blur
by Andrew Hudgins
Botanica
by Eve Alexandra
Bulb Planting Time
by Edgar Guest
Come Slowly—Eden (211)
by Emily Dickinson
Epitaph X
by Thomas Heise
Erotic Energy
by Chase Twichell
Evening Primrose
by Amy Greacen
Far and Away [excerpt]
by Fanny Howe
Follies
by Carl Sandburg
Forced Bloom
by David Baker
Four Poems for Robin
by Gary Snyder
From Blossoms
by Li-Young Lee
Girl
by Eve Alexandra
Herb Garden
by Timothy Steele
In April
by James Hearst
Iris
by David St. John
La Belle Dame Sans Merci
by John Keats
La Chalupa, the Boat
by Jean Valentine
Last Supper
by Charles Wright
Little Lion Face
by May Swenson
Meister Eckhart's Sermon on Flowers and the Philosopher's Reply
by J. Michael Martinez
Nothing But Death
by Pablo Neruda
Nothing to Save
by D. H. Lawrence
Ode to a Flower in Casarsa
by Pier Paolo Pasolini
On Arranging a Bowl of Violets
by Grace Hazard Conkling
One Flower
by Jack Kerouac
Permanence
by Denise Duhamel
Poem
by John Gray
Poppies on the Wheat
by Helen Hunt Jackson
Practice
by Ellen Bryant Voigt
Queen-Anne's-Lace
by William Carlos Williams
Sea Rose
by H. D.
See How the Roses Burn!
by Hafiz
Shake the Superflux!
by David Lehman
Solstice
by Ellen Dudley
Songs of a Girl
by Mary Carolyn Davies
Sonnet 2
by Gwendolyn Bennett
Taken Up
by Charles Martin
The Dandelion
by Vachel Lindsay
The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
by Dylan Thomas
The Gardenia
by Cornelius Eady
The Guarded Wound
by Adelaide Crapsey
The Métier of Blossoming
by Denise Levertov
The Mountain Cemetery
by Edgar Bowers
The Orchid Flower
by Sam Hamill
The Picture of Little T. C. in a Prospect of Flowers
by Andrew Marvell
The Satyr's Heart
by Brigit Pegeen Kelly
The Violet
by Jane Taylor
The White Rose
by John Boyle O'Reilly
The Wild Honeysuckle
by Philip Freneau
To Dorothy
by Marvin Bell
To Earthward
by Robert Frost
To My Mother Waiting on 10/01/54
by Teresa Carson
Why Regret?
by Galway Kinnell
Wildflower
by Stanley Plumly
Wildwood Flower
by Kathryn Stripling Byer
Without a Philosophy
by Elizabeth Morgan
Poems about New York
A Man Meets a Woman in the Street
by Randall Jarrell
City That Does Not Sleep
by Federico García Lorca
Cityscape 1
by Pablo Medina
In the Village
by Derek Walcott
Making Shelves
by D. Nurkse
Meditations in an Emergency
by Frank O'Hara
New York Notes
by Harvey Shapiro
Old Coat
by Liam Rector
Public Transportation
by Elaine Sexton
Summer Night, Riverside
by Sara Teasdale
The Lower East Side of Manhattan
by Victor Hernández Cruz
The New Colossus
by Emma Lazarus
The Tropics of New York
by Claude McKay
To Brooklyn Bridge
by Hart Crane