Today I’d like to share a little haiku I wrote that was first published in The Texas Observerin 2015.
Naomi Shihab Nye, who chose the poem for publication, said about my work: “I love Carie Juettner’s understated twist of observational loveliness in this tiny poem. When people in other states ask, as they frequently do, ‘Why do you live in Texas?’ one could simply reply ‘For the flowers’ and be done with it.”
This comment from my favorite poet left me smiling ear-to-ear for several days. I still get a thrill each time I read it and think about her reading my words.
With a big thanks to Naomi and The Texas Observer for giving this haiku its first home, here is “Politics aside”:
Politics aside, wildflower season brings out the blue in Texas
Today at school, my sinus headache made me grumpy with my students, even though they hadn’t done anything to make me grumpy. But I don’t think they noticed; they were grumpy too. One boy bravely volunteered answers and completed his work while holding a tissue to his nose the entire class period. One girl had to go to the bathroom due to a bloody nose. In one class, I counted nine sneezes. (Two of them were mine. One came from somewhere in the hallway.) Everyone who wasn’t actively sneezing, sniffling, or coughing stared at me with a vague, foggy expression.
All of this is to say… oak season has descended on Austin.
Ten days ago, I was writing on patios and taking walks at the Wildflower Center and sleeping in my hammock. Now, it feels like any one of those things could kill me. The pollen count is in the high to extreme-high range, which means every time I go outside for more than two minutes, my eyes start to itch, my sinuses swell up, and I start talking like the albino in The Princess Bride before he cleared his throat.
Ah, spring time.
I wrote a poem about oak allergies, which is in this year’s Texas Poetry Calendar. In honor of oak season and National Poetry Month, wipe off your glasses, put some drops in your eyes, and read “Yellow.” I’m going to go use my neti pot.
We are covered in cowardice,
seeped in a sickly smear
that sticks in crevices
and crow’s feet,
revealing all our lines.
We wade through
track fresh banana footprints
onto faded dandelion floors,
taste gold dust on our tongues.
We yield to the bitter grime
that clogs our nostrils, clothing our lungs in warning shades
with each breath.
During oak season,
we view the world
through a margarine haze,
learn how it feels
to be pollinated.
Spring has sprung here in Austin, and the roads are decorated with our state flower. In honor of these brilliant blooms, I’d like to share my poem, “Wildflower Season.” This poem won first place in the Austin Poetry Society’s Mary Oliver Award in 2015 and is published in Best Austin Poetry 2014-2015.
Highways are bridges across red seas,
oceans of blue—
bodies of color that wave
when the wind blows.
Tourists in our own land, we wade
through ankle-high blooms, then venture deeper—
trying to capture something
that can’t be caught in a photo.
What we want to remember
is our moment of awe
when we crested that hill
and gasped at the painted landscape.
One bluebonnet looks just like the next
They are not zebra stripes, nor snowflakes.
Their power lies in the collective,
beauty in numbers.
Let’s put down our cameras,
keep our kids in the car,
stop stopping on the side of the road
to see the blanket turn to threads,
the ocean of blue become a dried up lake
of bald spots and litter.
Let’s just drive, look,
enjoy with our windows down.