From My Commonplace Book - 23

On Occasion

by Grace Paley

I forget the names of my friends
and the names of the flowers in
my garden___ my friends remind me
Grace___it's us___the flowers just
stand there stunned by the sun

A long time ago my mother said
darling___there are also wildflowers
but look___these I planted

My flowers are pink and rose and
orange___they're sturdy___they make
new petals every day to fill in
their fat round faces

suddenly before I thought I
called out ZINNIA___zinnia
zinnia___along came a sunny
___summer breeze___they swayed
___lightly bowed___I said___Mother

Grace Paley (American, 1922-2007) was best known for her innovative short stories and political activism. "On Occasion" appeared in Fidelity, published posthumously.

The underscores do not appear in the original poem but are necessary within the limitations of the blog formatting to show the spacing between phrases in the original.


What a beautiful poem Merry, a writer quite new to me so a lovely introduction - thank you. The whole structure and economy of words is exquisite - this heartfelt poem to her mother.
Merry-- Thank you for this, and for all your postings and "Commonplace Book" blogs. If I need to reconnect with the human spirit (through print), you blog posts are my quickest route. J
Dear jewel,

What a lovely thing to say. You cheered me up. Thank you so much.

Wishing you the best,
All right, Enid. I'll see what I can come up with. I'm not sure if you mean more Grace Paley. I'm afraid I don't have another of her poems on hand. I might enter part of a short story. Give me a moment or two.

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