Sunday, April 17, 2016

ARTSPEAK! 2016: Poem #17 "Mary in the Garden"

Hello, and welcome to day 17 of my National Poetry Month poem-a-day-project ARTSPEAK! in which I respond to images found in the online collections at the National Gallery of ArtPlease join me, if you feel so inspired!

Also, be sure and visit Kim at Flukeprints to see how our Progressive Poem is progressing!

This year's ARTSPEAK! theme is "Plant. Grow Eat." It was inspired by the release of my latest book FRESH DELICIOUS: Poems from the Farmers' Market.

Here are the poems so far:

"This Wheelbarrow" after A Woman Emptying a Wheelbarrow by Camille Pissarro
"A Dream of Sheep" after Warm Afternoon by Winslow Homer
"Harvest" after The Last Days of Harvest by Winslow Homer
"Anticipation (in the Garden) after George Moore in the Artist's Garden by Edouard Manet
"Gathering Fruit" after Gathering Fruit by Mary Cassatt
"Bread's Lament" after Boy with Basket of Fruit by an unknown American artist
"After the Fire" after Ruined Farm by Hubert Robert
"Cow at the Gate" after Landscape with Open Gate by Pieter Molijin
"I Am the Plate" after Still Life with Milk Jug and Fruit by Paul Cezanne
"Courtship (According to the Cat)" by Winslow Homer
"Courage" after Planting Corn by Stanley Mazur
"Orchard Barber Shop" after Gardener Pruning a Tree by Jacques Callot
"Gardener's Companion" after The Watering Can by Georges Seurat

I selected today's piece because it's an image of how I'd like to be spending my time in the garden. :) As I was thinking about what to write I had this memory of the first day of fifth grade. My teacher Mr. Mac read my name during roll call -- Mary Dykes -- yes, I am one of those who is called by my middle name! This has caused all sorts of confusion over the years, and I don't recommend it. So Mr. Mac said, "are you Mary Had a Little Lamb" or "Mary Quite Contrary" ? I said, "I'm Irene." :) So, obviously, sometimes, a bit of real life creeps into these poems when I am least expecting it.

Mary in the Garden

When I'm contrary
I grab a book
and sit awhile
in the garden.

While I feast
on words,
the plants grow green
and greener.

Some stories
are essential as rain,
and oh,
how they sustain me!

- Irene Latham


  1. Love hearing the story of your name, Irene, but also I saw that the Mary, quite contrary was sneaked into the poem. Yes, the stories help us grow like sunshine for plants!

  2. The name issue is always one for good stories and poetry. And some stories are as essential as rain. Mary Irene is such a southern name, like Margaret Gene. We rhyme. Just saying.

  3. Love your phrase - "...and oh, how they sustain me!" Such a succinct way to describe the role of stories in our lives! I come from that southern tradition of two names - my sisters were Velma Ann and Martha Kay, but somehow Ramona was just too long for my middle name, Ella, to be added (unless I was in trouble).

  4. Oh, my. You knew you are IRENE.
    I can't think of you as a Mary, although I have lovely friends for who
    the name fits. Brava! to that 5th grade girl


Your thoughts?