Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Catalonian

Never let a botanist paint you.
Never look to a Catalonian for fun--
he'll invite all his old college chums over and make a castell in the front yard,
while you lean in the doorway sipping green tea,
and hoping with jaundiced eye for a strong wind.

Do me in oils, is that so hard?
Worship me like a deity.
Take me to India to ride in a gondola on the back of an elephant.
Shower me with orange saris and ornaments.
Stop vendors in the street to tell them,
breathless,
that I am your girl and how lucky can one man be?

Instead,
you lean over your microscope like a Times Square boy,
getting hot about molecular structure.
If we went to India,
you would leave me by the dusty roadside with the luggage
while you go off collecting needle-flowers
and plant-borne rashes.

Never love a botanist--
you will only be a bright accessory.
Posing, naked,
a sweet rich-souled gorgeous woman in her glory;
all he will see is your face as a sampaguita flower,
your raised arms as bracts,
your faint-making perfect nipples as odd berries,
and all of it to be collected and catalogued
rather than ravished.

Never share a miracle with a botanist.
Never expect garlands and gifts for your news,
or Hosannas for your hormones.
Unless you couch it in terms of locules and leaf buds,
he will give you that blank, myopic look
and you'll have to hold up the plastic branchlet you've just pissed on and say,
"Pink, daddy. Get it now?"

Always leave a botanist,
before you turn into a trifoliate of disappointment, frustration and murderous intent.
Extracted from Catalonia, he is an invasive species,
and he will destroy you, the fading native.
All botany is a ritual of seed and pod,
but you can reclaim your animal nature and run.

Take your child, now,
while they're busy with their stupid castell.
Raise her right.
Nurture claw and canine,
speed and cunning,
and teach her which creatures
are inedible,
bitter,
and best left alone.
________

Catalonia--a region of northeastern Spain. Catalonians are said to be very practical-minded. 

castell--a human pyramid. This is a popular sport among Catalonians.

This poem written using words given to me in a special edition of Flipside Flotsam!

19 comments:

TexWisGirl said...

enjoyed this romp thru shay's mind. thanks for the wikipedia at the end, too. :)

hedgewitch said...

What a tower of images, human and otherwise. Never love anyone who wants to look at everything with a microscope--it's bound to end in tears.

The very specific plant terms are wonderful here, playing into human biology as much as botany, as plants are just earlier versions of animals, as the speaker is an earlier version of herself. It's really interesting how seamlessly the viewpoint morphs from first person to third, so that by the end its obvious that it's not an isolated experience, rather a shared one that is the focus. Anyway, you pulled out all the stops here, and I am now just listlessly polishing what's left of my scalp with an old sampaguita leaf. The bright accessory line stanza is my favorite, and the end, of course.

Sioux said...

I've learned things about flowers from these last two posts. Thanks for the tidbits of information.

Have you read Pollan's "The Botany of Desire," which is about four different plants--the potato, the tulip, the apple, and hemp? I did not think it would be engaging, but it was absolutely fascinating.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Wowzers. A flabbergastingly potent write. You outdo yourself, continually. And we are all the richer for it.

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

Oh, what a gorgeous, wicked read! Loved the dvd too.

Cloudia said...

your poems are so full and rich- we could study each one for hours!



Warm Aloha from Honolulu
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Susan said...

Ha ha. No point in hiding the truth, tho in time the littlest ones always find their own. This narrator sure knows what she's about and what her botanist is not. It's actually hard to imagine such stoic ignorance!

Scarlet said...

Oh this one tickled my funny bone...and did you know I was once showered with a burnt sienna-colored sari and ankle bracelets, not by a Catalonian (I wish...they're not as bad as you think!), but by a crazy-in-love Indian man named Akbar. True story. I wish I had been as picture crazy then as I am now.

HermanTurnip said...

Yeah, Botanists can be right bastards, but they don't compare to the most heartless of all professions: the costumed mascot.

flipside records said...

This is so crazy-awesome, Shay. I love it to pieces. :) I sucked the juice out of every perfectly delicious word. Believe me, the bone is clean and dry.

I love your repetition of "botanist," as if you are clearly rolling your eyes everytime you say the word.

Great imagery in the first stanza especially, with the boys on the lawn and the cultured cougar sipping tea and shaking her head in the doorway. What a nice touch with "jaundiced eye," and oh my, "Do me in oils." :)

These are more of my favorites:

"Shower me with orange saris and ornaments."

"getting hot about molecular structure"

"ile you go off collecting needle-flowers
and plant-borne rashes"

"Never love a botanist--
you will only be a bright accessory"

And I'm sorry to do so much quoting, but this I found particularly gripping:

"all he will see is your face as a sampaguita flower,
your raised arms as bracts,
your faint-making perfect nipples as odd berries,
and all of it to be collected and catalogued
rather than ravished"

Hilarious version of a pregnancy test. :)

And then you just come straight out and say it: "always leave a botanist ... Take your child, now ... Nurture claw and canine"

Your last four lines are more of my favorites. And yes, I've essentially quoted your whole poem and not really said anything other than "Bravo." I'm probably an idiot botanist.

flipside records said...

I can't believe you got in all of those words so flawlessly. Well, I can ... because you're you. And you daily seek to outdo yourself.

Daryl said...

the way you have with words is wonderful .. i often re-read your poems several times during the day ...

Mama Zen said...

I am flat out speechless. Just . . . how . . . damn!

Shadow said...

can anyone or anything ever compare to what mother nature creates??? sorry, not very relevant to your poem, but that is what's sticking in my head after reading your delightful words.

Kerry O'Connor said...

Oh, the stories you can tell...! Just amazing the way you have described womanhood through a scientist's eye.
These lines summed it all up for me:

All botany is a ritual of seed and pod,
but you can reclaim your animal nature and run.

flipside records said...

I can see how your poem was driven by sound. You heard words in your ear and "storied" them together as you went along. This is a delight to read aloud.

Almost/Sort-Of Rhymes:
chum/fun
Catalonian/castell
lean/green
Do me/deity
India/gondola
orange/ornaments
microscope/Times
gorgeous/glory
face/raised/faint/making
fading/native (my favorite)
reclaim/nature
teach/creatures
inedible/best/left

Alliteration and Stuff:
let/look
Catalonian/college/castell
jaundiced/Do/hard/deity/India/gondola ("d")
botanist/bright/bracts/berries
collected/catalogued
rather/ravished
garlands/gifts
Hosannas/hormones
locules/leaf
pissed/Pink
turn/trifoliate
seed/pod ("d")
reclaim/run/raise/right
claw/canine/cunning
bitter/best

You make it look easy, but I doubt it comes quite as naturally and quickly as you make it seem. :)

Margaret said...

all of it to be collected and catalogued
rather than ravished.

.... this ... from a LIST of words? I'm shaking my head and believe there is nothing you can't do.

Helen said...

.. lost track of how many times I read your poem - as the music played. My former husband is a surgical pathologist ... all together now ~~ repeat after me ~~ 'leaning over the microscope?' A constant .. I lost the battle, a no-win. I seriously loved this!!

myheartslovesongs.com said...

i did not know that castell is a popular sport among Catalonians.

don't cheerleaders do that?