Poetry Friday: Grandma’s Syringa

Syringa, which is also known as mock orange, is in full bloom here in my corner of Connecticut, and it always reminded of the massive bush in my grandmother’s yard.  I grew up next door to my grandmother and spent as much time playing in her yard as I did in my own. Our shrubs and flowers were grown from cuttings and divided clumps of her shrubs and flowers, and I loved them all. So when my parents sold the house I grew up in, I divided as many of these heirlooms as I could. I still have peonies, iris, and poppies that once bloomed in both yards. The only plant that didn’t survive the move was my grandmother’s syringa (also known as mock orange).

We moved when
Grandma’s syringa
was blooming,
its branches curved
earthward by the weight
of a thousand snowy blossoms.
Their sweet, heady scent,
the scent of my childhood
is now tinged
with sadness
and longing for
a home that exists
only in my heart.

© Catherine Flynn, 2018

Please be sure to visit Kiesha Shepard at Whispers from the Ridge for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

15 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Grandma’s Syringa

  1. Beautiful, Catherine. I miss my grandmothers very much these days as I am now creeping into the ages they were when I knew them. I long for their insight into life and a connection to them. This poem reminds me that it all still exists for me, in me.

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  2. Dear Catherine, we are on the same wavelength this morning! I love this scent-y memory of your childhood — yes, it (and she!) exists inside you. All the things we carry with us… I am learning to trust that instead of grasping so fervently to physical keepsakes. It’s a process. 🙂 Thank you for your beautiful poem! xo

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  3. I have some Sweet William from my grandmother, a plant that was brought by a great-grandmother from Virginia, & some of my husband’s mother’s iris. Those plants meant much to us as you’ve written so poignantly, “the scent of my childhood”. Wonderful poem that captures your memory. Thank you, Catherine.

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  4. Catherine, this sweet poem brought back fond memories of my dear Mimi. I practically grew up at her house, and I love returning there to see all the plants and flowers still living on. Thank you for sharing this beauty.

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  5. Having some of mom’s iris gives me much comfort. Even if it’s only the visual and scent memories that remain (and now, your poem), you’ve still got that mock orange.

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  6. Catherine, this is such a beautiful poem and captures the sweetness and sadness of memories. I love that you have cuttings of so many plants from your childhood homes. The sight and scent of them must be so evocative for you.

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  7. I haven’t heard of syringa before. Lovely poem with your connection to your grandmother through scents and imagery. Love this image, “curved
    earthward by the weight
    of a thousand snowy blossoms.”

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I join the ranks of those who’ve never heard of syringa. I love how you have plants and flowers from the yards of your childhood. And the happy memories of growing up with a grandmother next door. Mine was across the street and down two houses. She wasn’t a gardener, but loved to quilt. Happy memories of seeing her quilt squares spread all over her living room!

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  9. This poem is a reminder of how connected the sense of smell is with memory. For me, it’s the gardenia behind my grandfather’s house — those waxy, white flowers always remind me of him.

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  10. Such a poignant & potent poem, to recall the generations before. I am glad you have this mock orange (didn’t know the true name until now.) The photograph is beautiful & the memory is exquisite. It must have left an ache to move away from your wonderful grandmother, but look at this tribute to her.

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