A rose, rose. A violet, violet. A jade, jade.
No. The architecture of each, a refusal.

Rose is not rose nor violet violet nor jade jade.
But each is what it is, not what it seems.

What each seems is what of each gets seen.
Though what we see isn’t the thing seen.

The petals of the rose are violet and jade.
Thus the petals of the rose look, to us, rose.

The shape of the violet absorbs all but violet.
The violet we see is the violet a violet rejects.

A rose is a rose is a rose, but not as a rose.
Jade is the name of jade, not the jade named.


Copyright © 2016 by Raymond McDaniel. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 25, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I think it’s beautiful and weird and dangerous that we name things according to what we see as their attributes (and attribute things according to names). ‘Hothouse’ is from a book about how we see, and everything that interferes with seeing.”
—Raymond McDaniel