Skip to content

Mud Season, Graceless & Violet Abandon

Mud Season, Graceless & Violet Abandon

– Poetry by Nina Denison – July 14, 2018 –

Tower in a river
Mud Season, Graceless

Difficult to explain
How April makes us queasy

How the air reeks
Blowing out of winter
It quickens our breath to smell the last wreck
Whatever it was
Tease what this year’s will be

Air turns thick for us
Like open space is filled with sludge
We swim through
But I never could sync with what I thought was
I swallowed so much pond water
I never took a breath

(In April we can’t tell water from air)

In April people die
(Johnny, Gus, Mollie,
my friend’s most-loved one)
As irreverent ghosts they loiter
(Even the dogs)
As if to remind us of the weight
Of our own ages
As if we could forget

I could spin it differently
Rewrite it as a womanly power
Uncanny— We see things
Unyielding in my maternal line

But the sight we gain in April is seeing our bodies
Recoil from the season
It means something

So I pay attention

Brace for whatever callous shift
Will wreck me this time


Artist’s Statement:

I wrote “Mud Season, Graceless” as an attempt to explain why I unravel every year at springtime. As soon as April hits, I become uncomfortable and on edge. The smell and sensation of the season changing makes my heart pound as I remember the feelings—and the traumas—that have always occurred at this time of year. There is a pattern of springtime unease among the women in my family; we share feelings of premonition when the season changes, and more often than not our premonitions play out. So in Spring, our minds— and even bodies—have been trained to expect something graceless.


Flower on a vine
Violet Abandon

I was violet by night
And you didn’t see it coming
You never saw me leave
Your simple eyes
Had been closed for years

I was a liquid cat in the dark
And then I was the dark
And that’s on you because
You betrayed me first

I tell myself this
In the dark when your eyes
Are sewn shut
Like they have been for years
And by now
I have lost the moment
When I stopped working
To unstitch their seams

By October
I was ultraviolet

But only by night
When you were far and I
Played quiet
But in truth
I have never laughed so loud
And I hate to say
I had never had
These wings

In truth
I let them take me
Winged into the dark and
I would not have returned
If not for the sun

It spoils the night and
It spoiled my fun

You betrayed me first

But what does it matter when
I betrayed you worse

I am not Violet and now
There is no one left
To leave


Artist’s Statement:

Violet Abandon is a poem about two things: turning into another person in response to trauma or grief, and acting out in response to feeling betrayed by a loved one. I wrote it after losing a family member and subsequently feeling unsupported or misunderstood by people I thought I could lean on. In the following months, I found myself turning into someone else—someone dark, bolder, and reckless, and despite the grief I felt strangely free. I noticed that I thought of this recklessness as being surrounded by the color violet. But grief is layered, and eventually the adrenaline sustaining me faded out. Reality setting in brought me back down to earth.


About the Poet – Nina Denison:

Nina DenisonNina Denison is a 26-year-old Bostonian who graduated from Tufts University and the Columbia Publishing Course. She is currently an editor at America’s Test Kitchen a lifelong writer of sporadically-published poetry and fiction. She is inspired by weather, dreams, dark-light tension (within herself, within others), insects (oddly), rivers, haunted places and people, and unshakable nostalgia. Nina is a Pushcart nominee with work appearing in Mouse Tales Press, Meat for Tea, Streetlight Magazine, Canon, Pequod, and Redheaded Stepchild.




Did you like this poetry by Nina Denison? Then you might also like:

Mother Poems
The damsel in distress was not for me…
We’re here, now.
Rainlight, No Last Words
before whisky after jazz