by Eve Merriam
Date of publication and publisher unknown
The willow is like an etching,
Fine-lined against the sky.
Then ginkgo is like a crude sketch,
Hardly worthy to be signed.
The willow’s music is like a soprano,
Delicate and thin.
The ginkgo’s tune is like a chorus
With everyone joining in.
The willow is sleek as a velvet-nosed calf,
The ginkgo is leathery as an old bull.
The willow’s branches are like silken thread;
The ginkgo’s like stubby rough wool.
The willow is like a nymph with streaming hair;
Wherever it grows, there is green and gold and fair.
The willow dips to the water,
Protected and precious, like the king’s favorite daughter.
The ginkgo forces its way through gray concrete;
Like a city child, it grows up in the street.
Thrust against the metal sky,
Somehow it survives and even thrives.
My eyes feast upon the willow,
But my heart goes to the ginkgo.
This poem means so much to me; it’s shown me beauty in the ugly as well as the fundamental differences that make us who we are. It does not parade the
In the poem, the
I find this poem not to be about two plants, but, instead, two people. The
The last two lines of the poem always hit me; I can even recite them from memory,
“My eyes feast upon the willow,
But my heart goes to the ginkgo.”
To me this is good and bad, those two simple lines direct our sympathy towards the ‘correct’ vessel, but, also make it seem ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ to be the Ginkgo, as if that isn’t a part of ourselves that we should be comfortable with. I don’t believe that there is any reason to pity the Ginkgo providing that the Ginkgo is fine being just that, a Ginkgo. As long as the Ginkgo does not try to outshine the
For these reasons, these debates, I find the poem The Willow and the Ginkgo fascinating. Though I am dissatisfied by the ending I still find that this is a poem that I reflect on each time I read it. I’ve read many poems but this is the only one I have written down on the journal that follows me, documenting any inspiration I find; for it’s originality and it’s relation to my life I have found this to be my favorite poem. Due to this poem I am able to say; I am Allya, and, I am the Ginkgo.
I am the Ginkgo
An interpretation of The Willow and the Ginkgo, by Eve Merriam
I do my best, I survive; I twist and bend, craning to reach the far-off light.
I am not a drawing made of thin etches; I am a charcoal sketch, drawn before your eyes by an artist off the street, a blur of grey smears, undefined lines.
I am bold, never shy.
If you expect grace from me you will be disappointed.
I have flaws and am not god-like in my perfection, because, I am not perfect.
I am not the elegant cashmere sweater; I am function over design, performance over attractiveness.
My voice is rich and hearty, gospel; not the soft pure soloist.
I am not shiny designer stilettos, carefully stored, never worn for fear of damage; no, I am the sneakers roughly tossed into a bin during the few hours not worn.
I am not hidden, protected from my mistakes, instead, I take them and learn; redefine right from wrong.
I am deeply rooted; it would take more than a caressing breeze to shake me.
I don’t live happily-ever after; I write my own ending and author my own story.
I see the willow for its beauty but; I am not the willow, nor do I wish to be.
I am the Ginkgo, nothing more, nothing less.