is what my sons call the flowers— purple, white, electric blue— pom-pomming bushes all along the beach town streets. I can’t correct them into hydrangeas, or I won’t. Bees ricochet in and out of the clustered petals, and my sons panic and dash and I tell them about good insects, pollination, but the truth is I want their fear-box full of bees. This morning the radio said tender age shelters. This morning the glaciers are retreating. How long now until the space-print backpack becomes district-policy clear? We’re almost to the beach, and High dangerous! my sons yell again, their joy in having spotted something beautiful, and called it what it is.
Copyright © 2019 by Catherine Pierce. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 1, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.
About this Poem
“I drafted this poem while waiting in the carpool line at my son’s school. I’d been thinking all summer about this wise/funny/sad/accurate term my kids had unintentionally coined for these flowers, but it was those quiet moments of waiting in line plus the close proximity of the elementary school that set this poem in motion.”
Catherine Pierce was born in Delaware. She received a BA from Susquehanna University in 2000, an MFA from Ohio State University in 2003, and a PhD from the University of Missouri in 2007.
She is the author of Danger Days (Saturnalia, 2020); The Tornado Is the World (Saturnalia, 2016); The Girls of Peculiar (Saturnalia, 2012), which won the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Poetry Prize; and Famous Last Words (Saturnalia, 2008), winner of the Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize.
She is the recipient of a 2019 Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Of her work, Aimee Nezhukumatathil writes, “With a jeweler’s eye and an uncanny knack for embracing devastating truths and desires, Pierce rewrites what it means to sift through wreckage of both heart and land.”
Pierce writes Poetry Break, a monthly newspaper column for the “Mississippi Books” page of the Clarion-Ledger and Hattiesburg American, and hosts the Mississippi Poetry podcast. The co-director of the creative writing program at Mississippi State University, Pierce was appointed the poet laureate of Mississippi in 2021. In 2022, Pierce received an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship.
Danger Days (Saturnalia, 2020)
The Tornado Is the World (Saturnalia, 2016)
The Girls of Peculiar (Saturnalia, 2012)
Famous Last Words (Saturnalia, 2008)
Date Published: 2019-03-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/high-dangerous