We have planted a burning bush at the base of a smoke bush. We appreciate the horticultural joke even more as the blossoms of the smoke bush appear well before the autumn-turn of foliage sets the burning bush ablaze.
Imagine my pleasure in coming across a description of a smoke bush in Hayden Carruth’s Asphalt Georgics [the last poem in the book — “Shake, Well Before Using”]. The voice at work in the poem calls them, the blossoms, “smokers” and will at some point compare them to tumbleweeds.
bout this time every year, the last
week in August, them
things, whatever they are, them bunch-
es, like they say resem-
ble smoke, see, them little smokers,
they bust off and the wind
blows them every whichway over
the whole street like some thinned-
The poem is about way more than Cotinus coggygria. It is also about pondering ephemerality. But done in this voice, like all the others in the poem-portraits of Asphalt Georgics, bringing a certain vivid character to the fore. As only a unique take on language and botany can yield the moniker “little smokers.”
And so for day 306