A few weeks ago, forty acres of poppies grew on a farm in Franklin County, Washington… Not any more!
The owners, Kenneth and Shanna French, said that they had bought the property in 2011 for $600,000, and that the dried flowers were sold for “ornamental purposes” — 500 pounds of it last year, and some of those ornamental purposes may include grinding up the plants in hot tea. Which not only looks good, but makes you feel really good… Well, not any more!
According to Reuters, Poppydog Farms, is now kaput. Or… under new management. And this management no longer will include the large-scale production of the organic pods that contain traces of morphine and codeine. So sorry all you customers. It’s back to Darjeeling and Lemon Lift… And yet, does the recent raid and subsequent arrest of the French’s have to mean an end to our addiction to ornamental purposes.
Does the Wicked Witch of the West have more tricks up her sleeve than a field of bright and beautiful blossoms?
Here’s a few excerpts of a poem by Charlie Smith, a former addict himself. It’s called,
Yellow Poppies, and appears in his collection, Heroin and Other Poems:
I’m mortally impatient for the past to catch up to me,
for it to go by like a loud car boiling down a dirt road,
a car you hook from a snatch of clattery music, bright glimpse
of a face that looks, maybe it is, beautiful…
I remember everything, but I don’t want to.
I’ve tried to say nothing, but sometimes a fact
or what I remember as a fact slips out, a bit about
my mother that makes her seem mean-spirited, selfish,
or another about one of my brothers licking blood off his arm.
I went up to the country, there were artisans,
each with a family, cars in the driveway with bumper stickers
admonishing everyone behind them to straighten up in some way,
and I thought, There’s a group I don’t want to be a part of.
But such thoughts are unkind and don’t really help.
The weird dynamic of these few stanzas is that Smith only hints at the ambivalent riches that remain hidden beneath a vast terrain of ornamental purposes. There’s treasure in remembering, and perhaps in remembering… in the groan that wants healing, and not merely pain control.
My father wasn’t a war hero,
but he wished he was. My mother was a beauty,
but more of a party girl than a beauty, the smoky type
who would accompany you to the beach
and later argue with you, her eyes flashing,
until you were sorry you met her.
Look around the neighborhood!
Things are growing that can make us sleep through a life… The feds may not come to put an end to avoidance mechanisms, to our obsessive organisms… but to contemplate the fragmentation and the brokenness may be more substantially beautiful than all the yellow poppies 15 miles from Pasco.