Pine Row Issue No. 6 Winter 2022-23 - Featured Poet
The kids unearth a tiny medicine bottle from the garden, a gift raced in
from the cold. Over the sink I unplug its century of dirt, remembering
Dorothy Parker’s impractical daydreams of a garden and a family.
Everyone laughed at her – “Flowers? Children? You?” – as she nursed
her hangovers with elixirs from minuscule bottles just like this.
In a moment the kids are back breathless and grassy, delivering me
a bouquet of three violets striped purple and white to fill the bottle.
In the kitchen window, sunlight blooms them giant bearded orchids
a tribute to Georgia O’Keeffe,
who also yearned for children, or the vessel of her
petals glowing, monumental, filling walls, commanding rooms
until she fled, destined – or resigned? It’s so much the same
for women, in the end – to tower bones over the desert. My violets beg
to be painted, but not miniature, not still-life, larger than life
in an O’Keeffian landscape to exalt the ordinary. Parker’s mundane
Americans staggered across existential planes, too
big for their insignificance, wanting more of life without knowing
what, or how to ask. Isn’t all art, ultimately, self-portrait? Here I am
with no wall-space for a large canvas. A big house crowded
on the corner is lit up with bottles, purple succulents filling every inch
of the bay window. An elderly woman lives there. An artist, I imagine.
On our evening walks my husband mutters about the impracticality of her
knick-knacks and houseplants. “What are they for?” he snipes
meaning maybe, “How can empty bottles and cactus fulfill a person?” or
“Why leave such a mess for someone else to clean up after you die?” or
“Doesn’t she have any children?”
or even “Why doesn’t she have any children?” He doesn’t understand
questions of practicality are existential challenges.
He loathes clutter for the dust it catches.
I long for the light it also catches.
To him there’s little difference between collecting and hoarding. Love
his heart. I want to tell him about women. How we all become collections
of bones in the desert, vessels hoarding dirt. “Imagine what a pretty picture
it makes from the inside looking out,” I say instead, give his arm a squeeze.
Imagine having it all
in one frame. A window like a painting, a painting like a window;
imagine not having to choose, having a family
set small among cactus, children casting color through the glass.
Interview with Edie Meade
How did you get started writing poetry?
I’ve been a songwriter for about 25 years (and a visual artist since I could climb out of the crib) but only really gave poetry a serious go a few years ago. It was like walking around the house, discovering a new spigot, and cranking it open.
Who has had the biggest impact on you as a poet?
Probably Diane Suess, of all poets, has inspired me the most to write in my own voice and honor my own roots and experiences. I agonize over narrowing down on poets. Louise Glück, Chen Chen, Ocean Vuong, Taylor Byas, Ada Limón; I read poems whose authors I’ve never heard of before that absolutely jack my jaw. I’ve also spent the past year with Dante, Homer, Ovid, and the Bible butterflied on my table. I’m obsessed with that epic voice of ancient poets.
What inspires your poetry?
I live a very ordinary life, so for me poetry means looking through layers of experience, what I’m reading as I’m going through my days, whatever ladles out of my subconscious. I have a background in visual art and art history, which is endlessly nourishing to my writing. And then in turn, poetry inspires all the other art I do.
What is next for you?
I’ve been working on a book-length poem, a sort of memoir about being the child of a Vietnam veteran and the American working class experience, with a Homeric twist. I’m also in the middle of recording a rock album with my husband.
Anything else you'd like to share?
I have a website! https://ediemeade.com
I’m also incorrigibly online, @ediemeade on Twitter and @edie_thee_meade on Instagram.
Edie Meade is a writer and artist in Huntington, West Virginia. Recent work can be found in Invisible City, (mac)ro(mic), Atlas & Alice, The Normal School, Pidgeonholes, and elsewhere.
Say hello on Twitter @ediemeade or https://ediemeade.com/