how to read a poem – “Alchemy” – Stephen Sandy‏

by richibi


when I looked up “philodendron” in the dictionary,
it said it was an “arum” with a particular “foliage”,
I thought what kind of a dictionary is that, then
found out “arum” was a flower whose leaves have 
a particular shape, of a heart or a sword, but didn’t
take that conjunction further than to cock a wry eye
and wonder, briefly, heart or sword, that’s some
we are inches away from being a philodendron, it
would appear, purportedly a “single atom” 
let me relate that when I worried about my position
in the universe, existentially, aesthetically, morally,
thinking that being no more, but also no less, than a
flower, really helped, was indeed the only thing that
helped, I didn’t want to imagine a world without
flowers, and I was a part of that 
from the New Yorker, November 5, 2012
Chlorophyll C55H72N4O5Mg
differs from human blood
only by substitution of one
atom of magnesium
in philodendron
for the single atom of iron
in Keats.
                    Stephen Sandy