Fairy Bells

This entry is part 18 of 29 in the series Wildflower Poems


Fairy Bells by Jennifer Schlick
Fairy Bells by Jennifer Schlick (click to see larger)

Prosartes lanuginosa

Their ringing isn’t obvious;
you need the ear
of an anchorite to find them.

Listen for water tricking under rocks,
a black-throated green warbler’s
five wheezy notes.

Look beneath creased leaves
& zigzag branches
for a bell of quiet yellow-green

that flares into a six-pointed star,
anthers facing outward
around a stout style—

all of which must drop away
to swell the bell’s heir,
a scarlet clapper.

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4 Replies to “Fairy Bells”

  1. Nature’s beauty and style are always palpable and authentic. But all this must “drop away to swell the bell’s heir, a scarlet clapper”. Beauty begets beauty. The blooming process.

    (But if I gave in to mnemonic “irrelevancies”, I would see something ominous in “scarlet clapper” — she with the scarlet letter, he the harried sound-picture synchronizer. Ah, perilous ambiguities!)

    I see poetic integrity in the limning of the flowering process. Liked it, Dave.

    1. Thanks, Albert. The word-smith in me really wanted to go with “glabrous clapper,” and then when I decided that would be a bit too obscure, “hard red clapper.” But the berries aren’t that hard, I said to myself, and so settled on the present formulation.

  2. Like the way it veers into more ethereal ways of finding (anchorite, birdsong) before coming down to the bell clapper!

    I can see why you wanted “glabrous clapper.” Really rounds the air in the mouth to say…

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