Narcissus Poeticus: a Redundancy in Parts

Poetry / Shevaun Brannigan

:: Narcissus Poeticus: a Redundancy in Parts ::

11. I’ve ruined everything.
12. It’s Spring & my flaws are emerging as daffodils.
13. Daffodils bloom from elbow crooks, from my vagina, my head packed with petals, sawdust in a cadaver.
14. A soft & common flower.
15. One mindfulness activity involves clenching my fist, then releasing it to feel the ease. The daffodil grows, blooms, dies & retreats to its bulb stasis, grows, blooms, dies & retreats to its bulb stasis.
16. My clenched fist is made out of daffodils & is crushing daffodils. 
17. Fell one daffodil & dozens bud in its place. I scoop dirt and & each bulb’s roots beget another, digging & digging away, a woman’s form reveals itself composed entirely of such fertilized seeds. 
18. I have daffodils in my past, daffodils the yellow of caution tape. 
19. There is an objective truth about me as a person to which I have no access. There are times I close my eyes & see nothing; others, nothing but daffodils.
20. I’ve been told I take things to extremes & that’s utter bullshit. A female daffodil’s reproductive organ contains what botanists call a stigma.
21. What about the soil, I ask myself, to myself, the daffodils come from something. I hand people dirt, I say understand me by this, & pluck out a worm.
22. What about, I ask, choosing something beautiful to represent that which is ugly within me. What does that say about me.
23. That you’re conceited, my daffodils answer.
24. A word said often enough loses meaning, try saying sorry, & then, this is key, repeating the action for which you are apologizing.
25. The action is being yourself as a person: the daffodil and its constant trumpet.


From the writer

:: Account ::

I’ve not been in the habit of writ­ing, not in a jour­nal, and cer­tain­ly not poet­ry. But I do make a lot of lists. This poem start­ed as a casu­al list I was mak­ing of every­thing going wrong in my life that was my fault, as one does, and there was a 1 through 10 orig­i­nal­ly. When I got to 11, and wrote “I’ve ruined every­thing,” I thought it would be fun­ny (not hah-hah) to use that as a start­ing point. It’s been point­ed out to me there are 14 sec­tions and per­haps this is a pseu­do-son­net. What isn’t a pseu­do-son­net these days though? It is a fun­ny (ha ha) thing to sub­mit poet­ry (an act which takes incred­i­ble self-esteem and self-belief) on the sub­ject of self-loathing.

I’m grate­ful to The Account for pub­lish­ing this poem, though it’s strange to re-read. I feel exceed­ing­ly dis­tant from the per­son who wrote it, and her inter­nal­ized rage. I enjoy the para­dox of some­thing so del­i­cate and beau­ti­ful as a flower as the sym­bol for this anger, but then again, I’m not sure I’m sup­posed to praise my own poem—it’s un-demure of me.


She­vaun Bran­ni­gan’s work has appeared in such jour­nals as Best New Poets, AGNI, and Slice. She is a recip­i­ent of a Bar­bara Dem­ing Memo­r­i­al Fund grant, and holds an MFA from Ben­ning­ton College.