Interchange Poetry Highlight-Stephanie Huang

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KSPC’s latest installment of The Interchange, our Public Affairs program, featured the work of Stephanie Huang, whose poem “Flora” can be found below.

“I’m a sophomore at Scripps majoring in Media Studies and minoring in Poetry. For me, poetry is an outlet gives form to thoughts that I didn’t know I had and clarifies emotions that I can’t exactly identify – it’s magical like that. I have a penchant for greek yogurt, daisies, and synthesized music!”

 

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Flora

I.

The quintessential question

a boy must ask a girl, a special girl:

What’s your favorite flower?

Lilac, lavender, and lilies of the valley,

primrose, pansies, and pink peonies,

Jacob’s ladder, Lady’s mantle.

The more extravagant, the better, he thinks,

Each flower should mean something,

white chrysanthemums to say goodbye.

yellow roses for jealousy,

So caught up we are

in what it means to mean.

What does it mean to have twenty-six flecks

of pollen, rather than fourteen?

Losing ourselves in the stuff

of the microscopic sort—

yellow freckles on red skin,

orange snowstorms amid blue skies.

What does it mean when she says hello,

rather than hi, he asks.

I think it means what it means.

II.

My favorite flowers are daisies because they are

unremarkable.

They sprinkle the spring grass with snow,

they pale next to the grandiose beauty of roses in

bloom.  I like to think of them as the underdog, the

wallflower—plain Jane.

All the more likable because of how

simple they are.

III.

There’s this silk rose corsage I have—layers and

layers of baby pink attached to a black elastic

band. A year old, it sits atop the graceful neck of a

glass bottle, petals ready to be petted between my

forefinger and thumb. False delicacy of thin

fabric, pretense of fragility—I use it as a hair tie.

Unlike real flowers, its rosiness never subsides, its

fluttery petals, like moth-wings, never choose to die.

Flower in my hair, I cannot say the same about the

one, with pianist’s hands, that first slipped you

onto my wrist.

IV.

Petals caught between strands, tresses snagged in

branches, yellow pollen in black hair.  What drew

me to wearing garlands, to weaving daisy chains,

was just the same as what drew me to faeries and

nymphs and elves. Dreams of every little girl, of

every grown woman.

My nine-year old self wanted to wear white

flowers in my hair, wanted to paint my nails

white. You can’t, my mother said – why not, I

protested.

It’ll mean someone has just passed away; you’ll

give granny a fright.

V.

The first time I attended a funeral was when I lost

my grandfather.

Chinese funeral bouquets of assorted blooms,

weaved baskets rising taller than me, reds and

yellows for happiness, good fortune, and royalty.

Yellow, gold, 黄, the color of the king is my last

name, but not my grandfather’s.

The smell of lilies and roses consumes the room,

and I can’t stop associating it with death. Scent so

strong, my nose stings, and if I weren’t already

crying, the acridity would bring tears to my eyes.

It’s my turn to lay a single flower upon my

grandfather’s body, his skin petal-thin, peaceful

face painted with rosiness for the ceremony.

VI.

Flowers wilt, flowers turn crunchy.

Lilac blossoms tinted gray,

white buds now mustard.

Shedding wrinkled tissue paper,

dead blooms rustle,

plastic bags in the wind.

-Stephanie Huang

stephanie poetry

 

You can listen to Stephanie’s reading of her poem in addition to the rest of the show below.

-E

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