Reading time: Approximately 3 minutes
"Hydrangea" first appeared in Issue 15 of Tahoma Literary Review. Many images in this work pulled at me, drawing me into Hinton's exploration of what the world allows us to celebrate, and what we allow for ourselves, and where "esteem" lands in the middle. The contrast can be a powerful one and at times, worth confronting. Here, the poet does so with a fast movement in ideas. So although the central image of this work is voiced in Spring, for me it has the ability to provoke a timeless message even as we head directly into the darker months. I hope you'll read it, and agree.
In your next paycheck there will be one
thousand more dollars, this is one of the
many ways, your boss says, they will show
great esteem, and esteem is a word pushed forward like
spring, like hydrangea. What are the
proper reasons for elation? One thousand is one
portion of what you make, you
make fifty though what you make should not make it out
you are elated and petaled and
you are a puff of hydrangea flying, a token of great esteem.
You want to talk to your dad so you go to a website,
buy a floral top and a striped top, it is the time for
spring in your mind. Your boyfriend said you never
buy anything for yourself and you are high, buying.
You wish to be emergent, planetary, a conduit for the coming
big disaster but first you just need to
do this one quick thing.
Pour out, as your inbox fills with warnings of
capsize and Softest Tees Ever We Just Got An
Extension and the Climate Won’t Wait, these are all
emails of happiness. Each is a
work, each pushes its little lozenge of
work to the world. Its excellent life, you are
possible to you, are changing. You cannot
talk to your dad, he was the
highjump champion of the Lake Wales schools and
you are the champion of
having a thousand dollars, it
is a thousand lakes to be the flowers beckoning over,
it is one fiftieth of what you make (you should not be candid about
what you make O to demur in your beckoning to be shy and not
dead about dollars). How much does it take?
You can den in offices far from your dead.
They are not skimming toward you on roads anymore,
you don’t have a car even
to be hovering in fear over—
you divested yourself of it years ago, plunked it
in active breakdown. Around it
oniony greens shot up. It was
spring, valleying you in tenderness,
opening its drenched mouth.
reprinted with the permission of the poet
Rachel Hinton had this to say about her work, "Hydrangea":
I had been thinking about the word "esteem" as it had been used in the context of a particular conversation. In myself and others, I notice a sort of flowerlike beauty in that desire for esteem—a fragility and humanness. But that desire is also tangled with other qualities—a pushiness, an impertinence, a link, in our time and place, to money/commerce. I was trying to write more deeply into that tangle of ideas.
Originally from Vermont, Rachel Hinton lives in Chicago, where she works as an editor and teacher.