“Violaceae” by José A. Alcántara

José A. Alcántara


If we must have violence, then let it be
the violence of violets, how they burst
into spring, before most anything else—
vanguard of the voluptuous—
unravelling their petals, their leaves
to attract whatever will love them.

If we must rant and rave, then let us
do so as they do, inconspicuously,
close to the ground, in all the wet places
until something with a stinger comes
and mounts us, turning us inward
where we learn what it is to sweeten.

from Poets Respond

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José A. Alcántara: “I wrote this poem on a hike the day after the suicide bombing in Manchester. The poem is not a response to the tragedy, though the suffering and potential responses to that suffering were lurking in the back of my mind. This poem is more of an alternative for than a response to. ‘Violaceae’ is the family name for the group of plants containing the 500 plus species of violets.”

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