Tuesday, April 19, 2011

P is for POPPIES (and Poems about Poppies)

Poppies have held a special place in my heart since childhood. On Memorial Day, our town parade paused in front of East Junior High School, where someone would read the poem, In Flanders Field, by John McCrae, and a lone bugle played Taps. Even though I was just a child, the image of red poppies blowing in a field of white crosses, coupled with the plaintiff melody echoing through silence, moved me to tears. Ever since then, for me, poppies have symbolized defiant resilience in the face of loss. Here is the first verse of McCrae's poem, In Flanders Field:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

When I was small, we had bright orangey-red Oriental poppies growing in our garden. They multiplied gaily year after year until they overtook the side yard. Shortly after my father passed away in October, 2009, I wrote a poem about those poppies.  The poem won 10th place in the 2010 Writer's Digest Annual Poetry Competition.

When my mother passed away in March,  a dear neighbor of 50 years sent me a lovely note, in which she remembered fondly many things about our lives as neighbors on Central Street. At the end, she added this p.s.: 

"Gwen's red poppies bloomed again on Memorial Day 2010!"


  1. Beautiful post and poem, Melissa! I can see why this was a winner. Very well done!

  2. Thanks Julie! It came straight out of the heart...as ever, that seems to work...


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