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Life Arts    H4'ed 7/2/22

The poppy followed by a note

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The first poppy of the year ...
The first poppy of the year ...
(Image by bazzadarambler)
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There was a red poppy
In a showy garden
On the road through the village on Monhegan
On the left
After you pass the backside
Of the Island Inn.
(The garden is amazing really
With flowers I haven't seen anywhere else.)
But this poppy was all by itself
And as I passed, its petals
Were moving intelligibly
In the breeze,
That is, they seemed to be trying to say something.
My tendency when I see something
Unusual, close up or distant,
Is to stop and take it in.
But, if I have my iPhone,
New to me,
Is my inclination to photograph it
Or video it.
For different reasons I suppose.
I fancy myself a good photographer.
You probably do too.
As technology improves
We actually do become better
Photographers, better
Maybe it is our way of
Stopping "to smell the roses".
Getting back to the poppy,
This was not a rose,
But it was the intense red of this flower
That first caught my eye.
Like the little girl's red coat
In Schindler's List (1994),
Albeit the red of her coat was muted
I think you catch my drift,
That compared to that poppy
The world, which before
Was colorful enough,
Was now dull.
And here was this reddest of red flowers
Trying to tell me something.
Maybe it was trying to tell me
To watch Schindler's List again,
Because, that was what popped
Into my head,
Where the little girl is walking
All by herself through the mayhem of a pogram
Where the Nazi Storm Troopers
Are routing and rounding up Jews.
She is as if in a different reality
Under the protection of something
Beyond all the evil and chaos
That Schindler is a helpless witness to.
And, in the same vein, there is
The lady in the red dress on the Matrix (1999).
Aren't we all,
Who are reading this,
In a limited sense, Schindlers?
Aren't we all,
In a limited sense, Neos?
Or maybe it was just telling me to stop!
Which I did,
And maybe I was even about to experience
Some kind of awakening
Just like Schindler did
And Neo did,
But I had my phone in my pocket
So, naturally, I decided to video the poppy,
Which I proceeded to do,
Moving in close.
As I videoed, a loud truck approached.
As the truck passed the sound was jarring.
Instead of staying focused on the flower,
Almost in revenge,
I moved the focus of the lens
To show the truck heading away
Shrouded in dust.
Now all my attention was on
The creative and "meaningful"
Video that I had taken.
The only trouble is,
For some reason
There is no video.
I can't find it.
It is as if it was never taken.
I had my chance
But the truth is
I am not Schindler,
Nor am I Neo.
I am just a poet struggling
Like many of us
To awaken from a dark
And unsustainable dream.


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In "The Matrix", the lady in the red dress is an anomaly planted in the training program to test Neo's ability to focus on the lesson of his life. Morpheus is teaching Neo how to navigate the Matrix where everyone they are passing on the busy sidewalk is potentially an agent programmed to eliminate him. On one level the poppy is serving the same purpose for me. It is helping me stay lucid on an island that can easily be experienced as a kind of Shangri-la, where the flowers are larger than life and there are artists standing at easels in random spots, interpreting the ubiquitous beauty for posterity. One can easily be lulled into a passive insular euphoria especially if one is there to get away from it all. When I am on Mohegan, I find that what works best for me is to not let myself fall into the, I will call it the "Monhegan program", where I can easily lose myself, such as if you were vacationing in a place that is famous or infamous for casting exactly that kind of spell (such as Los Vegas or Paris on the Seine), but to stay lucid so that I might tune to the "real" Monhegan, that can only reach me outside of the standard "Monhegan program". One way I have learned to accomplish this dual-consciousness is to write poetry. Another way is to sit in a remote spot on the wild side of the island to be alone for an hour or two with the sea, but sometimes, in spite of my best efforts, I slip into the program and I require a little help.

(Article changed on Jul 02, 2022 at 1:55 PM EDT)

(Article changed on Jul 02, 2022 at 1:58 PM EDT)

(Article changed on Jul 03, 2022 at 10:33 AM EDT)

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Gary Lindorff is a poet, writer, blogger and author of several nonfiction books, a collection of poetry, "Children to the Mountain" and a memoir, "Finding Myself in Time: Facing the Music" Over the last few years he has begun calling (more...)

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