Saturday, April 12, 2014

Wisteria sinestra

Wisteria sinestra

Under the lavender organza, the
ruffled panache of Borgia sleeves,
the sophisticated gamboge
of pistil whips,

under all the droop and pose
in bitter-beautiful clusters
of never-ripe rose-

 seeded for greensnake wine
 she slides, the glossy grey 
constrictor vine;
her hard wired climb,

her graceful smother
a two-week glory
hiding the persistent throttling line
kept close kept secret

in her pocket of leaves.
Through the ribs,
over the bones,
always the lady, she clothes

 the fists that tighten. the fingers that bind
in baby blue gloves; murder refined.

~April 2014

posted for   real toads
Transforming Friday with Hannah
Hannah Gosselin ( Metaphors and Smiles) gave us a perfectly innocent and lovely series of images of the spring flowering vine Wisteria  for our subject material--sadly, my muse is not into the innocent and lovely stuff much, so it all ended up here, definitely having experienced some transforming.
Thank you Hannah, for a much more pleasant prompt than this poem might suggest.

Process notes; Apologies to the noble Wisteria sinensis-- she decided to show me her sinister side, and she does have one, especially here in the south--invasive, clambering into and choking out trees and shrubs, damaging houses, and carrying poisonous seeds in her laburnum-like pods. (In fact, all parts of the plant are poisonous if ingested.)

Image: Wisteria frutescens, by BeareroftheCup, 
and Wisteria sinensis stolons, Kew Gardens by Dénes Emőke 
public domain via wikimedia commons


  1. Yes, wisteria has its dark side...When I lived in Broken Arrow the neighbor's wisteria had choked the life from a tree on our property when we bought the place. You really struck the "root" of its dark side with that last line. :)

  2. Oooh, scary. I'd forgotten about its dark side. Beautiful written.

  3. I long for a thick wisteria vine to grow in my yard - the silly things always die on me. Must be the climate is all wrong for it here.
    Each detail you focused on in this poem is so richly drawn - just exactly the way the blooms and vines look. If I'd never seen wisteria, I would know what to look for after reading this poem.

    1. Yes, probably the climate-it likes heat, strong sun, lots of moisture, and a long summer, though it is cold hardy to -26 or so centigrade. It will grow in medium sort of soil but prefers fairly fertile well-drained sites, and late frosts are hard on it. I know I can't grow any of the beautiful South African bulbs here :C--I've been told it's because our night temperatures in summer are too high, among other things. Thanks, Kerry.

  4. Holy cow (as we say in Wisconsin) I guess you are not a fan of wisteria? What a very villanous vine. You have described the destructive beauty so well here. I remember once posting (on fb) a pic of a wisteria tendril that reached inside my kitchen screen door and you warned me to look out!

    1. When I worked in horticulture i got to see the sort of things wisteria can do--if you happen to have a frame house with siding, as many do down here, and plant it along a wall, it can actually grow through it and into your attic and crawlspaces, and as the vines get thicker with age, they pry the siding apart, etc. It's notorious for wrapping itself around guttering and pulling it off. Also, as Susie notes, it will use another plant, even a fairly established tree, as its 'trellis, and unlike some other vines, it is so thick and heavy and prolific, that it will completely kill the host plant. Add that to the fact that while it is extremely beautiful in bloom, it only blooms for about 10-14 days a year, and it falls into my book of garden thugs. But in the right place, and in a cooler climate, it can be a lovely plant. I would say in Wisconsin, as long as you keep it pruned away from doors and windows(!) it would be fine. Thanks for reading, Mary, and bearing with my horticultural lessons. ;_)

  5. I always learn here- and it's not only about poetry! The poem well portrayed the sinister side of this beautiful plant.

  6. I loved it, every line. Your last couplet sums in up distinctly. I always enjoy your poems featuring plants, they maintain a sharp authenticity and colorful Hedgewith flavor. thanks for the much needed good poetry today.
    (our neighbors recently bull-dozed a wisteria to remove it from our adjoining fence. it never bloomed, ate the grape vines every summer, and was beginning to eat the fence.)

    1. Thanks, Jane. Glad you enjoyed, and I so appreciate you coming by to catch up. I love my flowers, but as Blue Oyster Cult once said "This ain't the garden of Eden." ;_) Wisteria is notably stubborn about flowering; can often take more than twenty years to bloom. Bulldozing is a good[& possible the only] solution!

  7. I love your poem, especially the rhyme line/vine really brings those stanzas together, and your choice of words is wonderful.

  8. Well, of the ultimate fiction we say, it must be abstract, please, change ... to write of flowers these days we add that it must surprise. Tall order, perhaps, but there's plenty of room for spleen in this infernal arboreal, in what Tommy Iommi of Black Sabbath quoth as "the doomy side of things." You show here how the purplish bruit of ripening, albeit delicately ... wow and yeowch.

  9. I read this earlier today but believe it or not was able to go skiing (probably last time this season) with my husband. Downhill (using borrowed equipment) which I very very rarely do, and which is completely terrifying to me, so recovering. Il'm so glad I didn't comment earlier because I missed the wonderful joke of the title. That is worth the price of admission alone--very clever. And the pistil whips and the Borgia sleeves and the blue that seems somehow like choking, and the hard wired (very funny) and so many I am undoubtedly missing. There is such a snake like aspect to the vines, and your horticultural understanding comes through so cleverly, with such a sharp precision. The revelation here that there is a survival of the fittest even among plants! Always cool. Yes-- twelve days down--this has been a rather awful week workwise so it's been a tremendous relief to write poetry actually. And so nice to be part of this cool group all caring about it. K.

  10. yikes...murder redefined for sure....the language in this is very are learning me word play as well...pistil whips....smiles....not one i would like to cozy up to....

  11. "Borgia sleeves" and "pistil whips!" This is just glorious, Hedge. Everything I love to read and wish I could write.

  12. Oh, no apologies necessary at AL hedge!!! I love the twisting darker side and it's befitting...truly.

    Well written, I especially love the closing portions...the mention of ribs, bone...the vine itself.

    Excellent, Hedge...thank you for joining with your unique and vivid poetic perspective. :)

  13. I don't understand. She sounds like a most reasonable and pragmatic woman to me. I'm telling you, Lambs, no one gets dressed up 365 days a year unless they are some kind of insecure poser! Fourteen days is enough to cover debutante season and the important charity galas, not to mention just the right amount to leave them gasping over one's magnificent designer gowns which, naturally, will never be worn a second time. Somewhere, there's a tiresome hausfrau like Bitsy Henderson, who will find it at a resale shop and wear it for gardening or something. How gauche!

    Anyway, I don't understand what your gripe with hysteria...oops, If a girl can't take whatever she wants and can lay her hands on, well then, what's the point of having the staff get up in the morning?

    I'm sorry, Darling, but you're as inscrutable as an Oriental. I'll send Firebosom, or whatever her name is, over here; she'll turn handsprings over this stuff. Me, I've got RRRRRamon waiting for me in the RRRRolls, to take me shopping! You think you know a vice grip just because you've seen wisteria vines. Ha! You've never been shopping with ME!

    Air kisses,


    1. I knew that 'always a lady' line would get to you. ;_) Firebosom, indeed--that girl has no refinement.If you're going shopping, see if you can't pick up a decent pair of hedge shears for me, you know, one with silver blades and swiss movements, and a few emeralds or two, to match the leaves?

  14. that's some purple prose (drum roll, please.)
    I admire the progression of the verses, from well-coiffed dame to gloved vixen with a garrote, as it were. ~


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats