Monday, April 07, 2014

Ghost Plant

About 30 years ago, I knew Nancy Hanna. She had stunning white hair and I wished I could grow up to look just like that. I was the young librarian in Gilroy and she was a  member of the Gilroy Library and Cultural Commission. (We also sponsored an annual art show in the park.) When I visited her house, she gave me a start of this plant. She told me it was "ghost plant" and I imagined (since she was an artist) that she had made up the name on the basis of its pale color. Just last year I was in a local nursery and they were offering Pony Packs of this plant. The sign named it Ghost Plant. So there you are. I have lost almost all of my other succulents and blossoming cacti in a few hard frosts since then. But I still have lots of ghost plant; if one piece breaks off, you just plant it for more. I have a large hanging basket of it now. And many pots, small and large. It always reminds me of the friendship with Nancy!

And this is the almost excessive and ruffly beauty of a pale pink tree peony, which we have had so long we have forgotten the name of the cultivar. It wasn't doing well at first in this location, so S dug it up and moved it and now we have two of them--because I guess he didn't get every bit of it. It's been a long, full, rich day and I can hear my bed calling to me, but tonight we must first have this poem by Lucien Stryk.

Three Saints of Nardo di Cione
                         (painted in Florence, 1350)

What an eye for color! I remember
those three saints in softest
green, rose, blue flushed robes

staring raptly at me --- as if
we were close-knit, elbows touching,
silent together 650 years. Have

they mused on this selfsame face
over the ages, through tyrannies,
uprisings, famines, searching in

the wrong place for the Fountain
of Forever? Unlike these park-
squatter pigeons, whirring content

past the lily-pond by late-summer
goatsbeard, from bench to bench,
cocksure of offerings. Soon they

will take off, soar beyond nests
in thick trees to the shoulders
of saints, feathers soft green,

rose and blue, in unfading light.

From Of Pen and Ink and Paper Scraps, Swallow Press Ohio University Press Books, 1989, page 43.

In six three-line stanzas and a final line, this poem does everything it needs to to give us such a lovely comparison and make us want to seek out the painting! And here is the link to the painting!

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