Chrysanthemum is one of the few flowers that you can find blooming at this time of year. I prefer calling them chrysanthemums to mums. I am not sure why I think of them as two different plants. When I think of a mum, I think hardy and boring and only shades of orange. A chrysanthemum just sounds prettier and rolls of the tongue nicer. Some people call them simply chrysanths. Yet mums are one and the same as chrysanthemums and are quite lovely and available in many different shades.
In America chrysanthemum symbolizes fidelity, optimism, joy and long life though in many European and Asian cultures the flower represents death and grief. Such is the way of flowers that they can have multiple meanings. Their daisy-like structure in almost any color imaginable makes for a pretty bouquet.
(“Appleblossom” is a verse translation from the Japanese of a short selection from the notebooks of Chiri, Bashō’s traveling companion during the years between Withered Chestnuts and Travelogue of Weatherbeaten Bones.)
I have a need to ventilate, to have my porous body—sockets
and holes—open to the bald-faced wind and have my heathen inner-stuff
tweedled like a reed flute and this piffle floats out. But walking on the
open road, I know even open roads, to be roads at all, are ruts.
With a careless beanfield on either side, off one more time, even you,
Mr. Out-in-the-Woods, might as well be stuffed in your hometown bucket.
And if these grim beams of trees are truly home, Sweet, as you say they are,
then the timberwolves would reclaim you by singing and that would be all.
The Moon would reclaim the timberwolves—not a snarl—soft keepsakes
asleep in the palm of Her hand. I would reclaim the Moon by picking
a white silk chrysanthemum and resting it on the branch beside Her.
Who would reclaim me? and say, “Blossom, we are not two. There is no road
to or from. You cannot write a love poem. You cannot walk away.”