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Tulip Festival


I like to see the newest, most fragile offerings alongside
the old and loamy. Each May, some upstart frilly-headed tulip
gains ground in gardens named for General Washington
and silver trinkets shimmer across from carts of pretzels.
Masses of visitors — college students, families, singles —
change every year like the Facebook album of a casual friend,
but always a few regulars appear, people I’ve known for decades
like bookmarked photos in a local history text, me as editor
updating captions : divorced ; last month lost his job ; once again
fighting cancer. This year I pass by hammered aluminum plates
dedicated to Navy vets, hand-carved wooden dioramas,
tie-dyed shirts, sleeveless dresses. Usual wares. What attracts me
instead are these small hot air balloons made of glass,
hung on string from the top frame of a white canvas booth.
To me, they are fresh revelations — slim red and blue ribbons
on one, yellow-green chevrons on another — although I know
from writing my poems that nothing stays new for long. Like this vendor
I could blow some shallow breaths into a few precious shapes,
place each at a different height so that when spring winds
or rude teens rush by, they shiver but don’t collide — even then
some old thick danger, a city’s pit-bull, might wreak its havoc.
by Therese L. Broderick
(An artist’s statement about this poem appears as the first comment.)

About ThereseLBroderick

Independent community poet living in Albany, New York USA.

One response »

  1. ARTIST’S STATEMENT about this poem
    Fact & Fiction –
    Most statements in this poem are autobiographically accurate. Yesterday my family and I went to Albany’s Tulip Festival in Washington Park. I bought a glass hot-air balloon as a gift. The phrases in italics are examples of life events happening to people in general, but are not applicable to the individuals I saw at the Tulip Festival. I took notes on the colors and patterns of the glass so that I could put them into my poem. While I was at the festival, I heard some fragile (perhaps glass, porcelain ?) thing shatter in the crowds behind me, but a pit-bull (invented in my poem) was not the cause. And yes, I do know for sure that everything I write about has already been written about, countless times, by poets who are much finer writers than I.
    Sound & Sense –
    I strove to write a longer poem than I usually do, with longer lines and more details. Also I strove to incorporate more metaphors/similes than I usually do. I deliberately worked to get the first few lines to attract the reader’s attention by offering both a general observation (first sentence) and an interesting metaphor (tulips “gaining ground” against General Washington’s army). This strategy was used in a fine poem by Cleopatra Mathis which I recently read and admired. The contrast I introduce early (fragile/loamy) I revisit throughout the poem : trinkets/fried dough ; Facebook / history text ; poem / pit bull. In the last line, I use “old, thick” to recall “loamy.”


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