Poetry & Ceramic Pots by Julia Polen ’24

by Brian Yun

At the end of every year, Creative Writing students design and create a final independent project. Julia chose to write a series of flower-themed poems. The poems describe the 5 stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance – and are each accompanied by a handmade ceramic pot. Look closely, and you will see that entire poems are carved onto the pots. Each pot has a unique feature or detail which holds a connection to its poem. Try to figure out what they mean!

nightshades (denial)

A cluster of nightshades
Sleep in a garden
Their petals sag
As they shy away from the sun

They smell
Like sewage 
But I am hungry 
And they look so sweet
They can’t be that bad 

aconitum napellus (anger)

Dull hooded flowers
Their colors now Faded
Shyly gaze at the soil
They stand out amongst 
The extravagant 
Bright colors

They don’t fit anymore
They are ugly 
They must be removed
The trowel 
Burrows deep

Finally the roots bleed 
Blood slithers into the cuts 
On the hand that once gave them life
The Napellus have won
“aconitum napellus”
roses (bargaining)

I love the roses 
They smell so pretty 
But my hands 
Are caked with 
Scars and callouses
From tending to them 
I’ll stop watering them 
Maybe they’ll die 

But they look so thirsty 
Just a little water
To quench their never-ending thirst
flowers? (depression)

Where are you
Please don’t play this game 
I don’t want to be alone 
The garden is
so barren 

Soil can’t be loved and nurtured 
without any flowers
I can’t grow any other plants
They only ever grow to sprouts 
Or perish 
You’re the only plant that ever grew 
The garden finally felt complete 
Please come out from where you hide
I don’t want to be alone again
Ferns (acceptance)

The garden 
Now plentiful 
With ferns 
It feels warm and welcoming 
Finally it’s my garden

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