poetryrepairs 16,10:120

JUDY HOGAN : Can Flowers Change Your Life?
JUDY HOGAN : Can Flowers Change Your Life? 2.

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Can Flowers Change Your Life? I.

I. October 18, 2015
They change mine. The first frost warnings are out. I planted zinnias late–the big ones, mixed colors. I had to dig out high weeds, fertilize, and then sow the fragile seed. Grass flourished as the seeds became seedlings, so I dug out the grass. Then Wag became obsessed with unearthing voles. I scolded but her deeper instincts were at work. She must remove the voles herself. I put down cayenne pepper and fox urine granules. Some of the voles moved into the lawn, but others merely hunkered down and waited. Meantime the flowers rose on long, healthy steams and began to bloom. By then it was September. Undeterred by wind that pushed them over or erratic rain–too little or too much­­they held high their blazing reds, oranges, pinks, whites, yellows, lavenders. Once when I set a bouquet on the front stoop, a butterfly found them and left reluctantly. Every time I see them in their part of the garden, in my kitchen, on my dining table, or traveling in my car to give a friend, they tell me everything will be okay. I seem to need reminding more and more these years, They bloomed, they still bloom, they keep on blooming. Only a hard frost will still their cheerful voices.

poetryrepairs #229 16,10:120

Can Flowers Change Your Life? 2.

II. October 25,
It happened fast. That morning I’d picked up my truck with its new radiator, done my errands– grocery store, chicken crates, bank­­and was almost home when another pickup truck, newer, larger, slammed into me. I thought my truck was rolling over. I held tight to the steering wheel, braked, and when I saw that I was still on the road, I pulled over and stopped. The young woman came up to me. “Are you okay?” I wasn’t. The vertigo was gone, but I was still dizzy. “We need to call 911,” I said. I fumbled in my purse and pulled out my cell phone. She called, said I needed an ambulance. Two fire department trucks came and flashed red lights to warn the traffic. Then two ambulances came. They checked my blood pressure, asked what happened, offered to take me to the UNC Hospital. Finally the highway patrolman came to do the accident report. I decided not to go to UNC but called my neighbor Chloe to take me home. She did. Then I called Harold, who came immediately. I asked him to bring my truck home. He said, “You need to go to the hospital and have them check it out.” I said I would. I gathered my book, writing paper, an apple, and called again for an ambulance. The same crew returned. My blood pressure was up, but my heart was steady. She and I talked about the horrors of fracking and my trips to Russia. She trained to be an economist but likes to help people. Two hours later UNC sent me home. The cat scan showed no problems. My brain had had a jolt. “Give it a few days. You’ll be all right.” My daughter took me home. Then my friends began to gather around. Anne came the next day, bringing lunch, and my students for their life story class. My mechanic Al advised me to get at least $1000 for the truck damage. My faithful pickup’s bumper was bent, but that was all. Lucky me in a strongly built old truck, and my basic health has held. I’ve filled out forms and listened to Al’s advice as to the truck’s worth: at least $2500. I’ve spent recently on new doors, new tires, new radiator. That all counts, Al says. My friends Sam and Marie, hearing my story, made me feel like a treasure. They’d read my long book about my grandmother Grace and praised all my work on it. Sometimes I forget how many people love me. There is nothing quite so reassuring as being treasured by your friends, those flowers of the heart.

poetryrepairs #229 16,10:120


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JUDY HOGAN was co­editor of a poetry journal (Hyperion, 1970­ 81). In 1976 she founded Carolina Wren Press. She has been active in central North Carolina as a reviewer, book distributor, publisher, teacher, and writing consultant.Four mystery novels-- Killer Frost (2012), Farm Fresh and Fatal (2013) The Sands of Gower (2015), and Haw (2016)--are in print.

JUDY HOGAN has published six volumes of poetry with small presses, including, Beaver Soul (2013) and This River: An Epic Poem (2014). Her published prose is Watering the Roots in a Democracy (1989) and The PMZ Poor Woman’s Cookbook (2000). Her papers and 25 years of extensive diaries are in the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture, Duke University. She has taught creative writing since 1974 and Freshman English 2004­2007 at St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh.