The bridal wreath is blooming around so many of the older houses in town. Bridal wreath is an old-fashioned shrub, blooming briefly around Memorial Day in waves of snowy white blossoms, then to return to a nice, quiet dark green bush.
I read this poem initially at my 2009 poetry reading, “Change of Season”, soon after I’d written it. I read it again at “In This Valley”, my poetry reading to celebrate Carnegie’s 120th birthday, since I felt it was one of those poems that had described life in this town for many, both those mentioned in the poem, and especially my memories of the neighborhoods when I was little. Every house had bridal wreath spirea growing in front, and everyone was immensely proud of it when it bloomed. Cuttings and small shrubs for planting were given to young married couples who’d purchased a new house. As I read, I was surprised to see heads nodding in agreement and smiles. It was familiar to us all.
This poem was inspired by an actual home, more on that after the poem. Because the bridal wreath blooms at this time of year and because the lives of the couple I mention are deeply touched by wars, I keep this poem for Memorial Day.
Blooming in drifts so dense and tall they hide the entire porch
The bridal wreath greets the May bride
Though she first crossed the threshold decades ago when the shrubs were new,
And placed a vase of the blossoms on her first dinner table,
Has since raised her children,
Lost her son in Viet Nam
And her husband to cancer,
Her daughters moved out
And she has held her grandchildren and great-grandchildren
Through it all the bridal wreath unfailingly welcomed her in the morning every May
In the neighborhood lined with large, neat family homes.
Now the paint is peeling,
Drawn window shades hang in tatters
The bride herself is gone,
Her home the only one remaining on this dusty deserted block
Yet the bridal wreath blooms as fervently as ever this May
Bridal Wreath ©2009 Bernadette E. Kazmarski
Below is the actual home that inspired this poem. Nothing special about it except that it is the only family home left in what had been a block of these homes, and it’s fenced off because it was shortly thereafter bulldozed for the CVS that now stands there.
Paths I Have Walked, collected poems.
I’m proud to offer a folio of my poetry
Paths I Have Walked: the poetry and art of Bernadette E. Kazmarski
FROM FOUR ANNUAL POETRY READINGS AT ANDREW CARNEGIE FREE LIBRARY & MUSIC HALL IN CARNEGIE, PA
People who attended one or more of my poetry readings encouraged me to publish some of my poetry in a book from the beginning.
Once I completed my 2010 poetry reading, my fourth featuring the final piece of artwork in the “Art of the Watershed” series, I decided it was time to publish something and it should be those four poetry readings.
Poetry books are not best-sellers; it’s difficult to convince a publisher to risk effort on a beginning poet, and while self-publishing is the best option it’s not inexpensive and once you’ve got the book, someone’s got to market it. Plus, I’m a graphic designer and I designed books for years, and I want things my way.
All of this is a recipe for a little bit of trouble, but I decided the book was well worth the effort so I designed the book myself and had a set printed—no ISBN or anything formal, but it’s a start! I’m really excited to offer it.
Books are 4.25″ x 11″, 40 pages of information and poetry, with glossy covers featuring “Dusk in the Woods” and little thumbnails of all four pieces in “Art of the Watershed”.
$8.00 each plus $2.50 shipping (they are oversized for mailing first class).
About the books and the poetry readings
My biggest inspiration for poetry, prose and artwork is the world right around me, and I enjoy the opportunity to share it from the perspective of one who walks and hikes and bikes and carries a camera, art materials and journal everywhere—even around the house—so the inspirations are fresh.
In December, 2006, two of my poems were chosen to be published on a section of the Prairie Home Companion website entitled “Stories From Home/First Person” for submissions of writing about the place we feel most familiar. I’m a long-time listener to PHC and reader of Garrison Keillor’s books as well as a daily listener to The Writer’s Almanac featuring news about writers and writing and of interest to writers as well as a poem, all compiled and read by Keillor himself. I was astonished to find my poems were among the first chosen from apparently thousands, and so happy to be able to share them with a potential audience of so many similarly inclined writers and readers.
My poetry readings and art exhibits were the vision of Maggie Forbes, executive director of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, after learning of my publishing of those two poems. I owe her many thanks for encouraging me to present this combination of my visual and literary art, a first for me. I love that building, every inch of it, and the opportunity to bring people in to visit is an honor.