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ARTIST: Claude Monet (1840~1926)

PAINTING : Wild Poppies (oil on canvas, 1873)

EXHIBITION : reproduction in art book Mothers & Children (Metro Books, 1995) by Roxana Marcoci

NOTE : The same two figures appear twice in the painting : Monet’s wife Camille and her son Jean.




They walk briskly, a boy and his mother on their way

through the fields, passing the uncountable

scarlet poppies, and already forgetting

that other child and woman behind them

descending a grassy hill : the lives they had lived

only moments earlier, before the poppies

went uncounted.

…………………………Tomorrow my daughter turns

sixteen, hours of girlhood gone like so many

blossoms fallen upon a meadow.

……………………………………………It’s hard to tell, but

possibly, this closer boy is holding a clump of flowers

freshly picked, hands hidden by one immediate

color. Oh son, don’t wait to offer the gift.

Lift red petals to your mother.


by Therese L. Broderick



About ThereseLBroderick

Independent community poet living in Albany, New York USA.

One response »


    My goal when composing any poem is to craft a passage of spoken language which is supersaturated with both sound and sense.


    When I read this poem out loud, I read it rather briskly, to approximate the quick passing of time, the “carpe diem” theme of the poem. Ideally, I should figure out a way to read the middle part (in italics) in a register of voice which differs from the register I use in the other two parts, but I haven’t yet figured out how to do so.


    I structure the poem with a departure of time in the middle, just as the painting itself is divided into “before” and “after” moments. The flower poppy is, itself, a symbol of forgetting.

    The phrase “It’s hard to tell” serves two purposes:
    1) to refer backwards to the daughter’s growing apart from her mother ; that is, it really is hard for me, the mother, to talk about how quickly my child is growing up
    2) to refer forwards to the next image in the painting which is, really, hard for me the viewer to decipher because I have access only to a copy reproduced in a book. I can’t tell for sure whether the boy holds some flowers.


    My daughter will soon turn sixteen~~not tomorrow, but soon.

    In my real life, the Persephone myth is extremely vivid and potent. Anytime I see children (especially daughters) and mothers in a field of flowers, I am drawn deeply into the image.


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