On occasion

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(Host) Vermont summers are short, but memories of the warm season are long. This month, VPR commentators reflect on the importance of the past – in our series “Summer Times.” Here’s Vermont State Poet Grace Paley with a poem in which the past and the present come together in a summer garden.

(Paley) “On Occasion”

I forget the names of my friends
and the names of the flowers in
my garden my friends remind me
Grace it’s us the flowers just
stand there stunned by the mid-summer day

A long time ago my mother said
darling there are also wild flowers
but look these I planted

my flowers are pink and rose and
orange they’re sturdy they make
new petals every day to fill in
their fat round faces

suddenly before thought I
called out ZINNIA ZINNIA
ZINNIA along came a sunny
summer breeze they swayed and
lightly bowed so I said Mother

Gracey Paley is the poet laureate of Vermont. The formatting of this poem has been altered.

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