A Poem in Progress: #14–April 14, 2016

Number 14

Wisteria and Lattice Motif

Here is what I remember:
hanging scallops of bloom,
articulated purple bells,
shook warnings we did not hear;

floral rattlesnakes,
shaking so slightly
when we trod the board floors
of the rotting shotgun house.

So frail and decorative
they appeared, blanched
in moonlight, even as they
knocked ghostly knuckles,

even as they crushed
with their lush growth
the lattice supporting them.
I can hear them now,

sliding insistently
between frame and windowpane,
prising up nails, delicate
vegetal marauders.

Leslie Schultz

This morning, I spent more time with the Handbook from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I was quite struck by this image of a Noh robe from their textile collection:

Noh Robe Wisteria and Lattice Motif

As I gazed on the attractive and orderly depiction of this plant, I suddenly and vividly recalled a wisteria vine I contended with long ago in Lake Charles. I delighted in its beauty, but only gradually realized its destructive power.


Then I looked up “destructive wisteria” . Hmmmm…rather well documented, as a matter of fact, and compared to unbalanced power in human relationships. Is the Noh robe, worn by a man in the Edo period (1750-1850) when depicting a female role, commenting on gender politics?

Here is another wisteria image from contemporary Japan, an example of strict civic pruning.

Wisteria Tunnel

Until tomorrow!


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