I woke to see tigridias outside
my bedroom door: two open painted flowers.
They bent beneath the heat and would have dried,
except I took them in to grace the hours
of a Saturday in late July.
It did no damage that I severed them.
Their fragile petals stood and charmed my eye
from early morning until 5 pm.
One spattered yellow in a crimson cup;
the other was magenta poured on cream.
Two triple lobes until they’re folded up
like silken ribbon wrapped around a dream
of summer – fleet and hot and passing bright –
these flowers hold, that never breathe at night.
With purple mint the gardener conversed,
while students took an Easter break from school.
He dug a hole on March the 31st
and called himself an aging April fool.
He stuck bromeliads in rotting wood,
and sought the snaking irrigation hose
beneath the silted ivy. Then he stood
and studied how the blue datura grows.
I watched him as I bent to rinse the mud
that caked the steps. Against the mortared brick
I aimed the water, where the winter flood
had left its mark. He paused to throw a stick
the dog retrieved and said, “I guess I’m great,
compared to how I’ll feel at 68.”
I ambled in the park the other day,
beneath the overcast and through the clumps
of eucalyptus, picked a curving way
avoiding poison oak and gnarly stumps,
that brought me when I paused before this tree:
a eucalyptus too but very strange.
Its shape suggested oak – it twisted free
of straight constraint and made its branches range
more outwardly than up. In strips its bark
like packing tape depended from its Vs;
its under skin was whiter than a stark
gray birch. It seemed the general of trees.
Amid the ordinary it stood out
and lured me louder than the kids could shout.
The metal railing hot against my hand
where sunlight silvers it, and steely cool
beneath the shade, I fully understand:
Such education doesn’t need a school.
The turn of leaves of birch upon the breeze,
refracting green as sequins prism light,
is vision comprehensible with ease:
I don’t need words from me to see it right.
But yesterday, the garden featured two
that bloomed on stalks and only lived one day:
A pair with scarlet spots on lemon hue,
that opened butter soft, in an array
of layered tongue-shaped petals, three on one,
that blazed and then expired with the sun.
The cypress branches eddy on the breeze
like kelp in ocean currents. Ravens ride
the tidal air above contorted trees.
Below, the ocean clouds like cream – in slide
and swirl it imitates the atmosphere.
The purple iris stand like Ws
reflecting flight, above the scarlet spears
of ice plant and the psychedelic hues
of tiny clumping succulents. The sea
corrals detritus in a tube of teal.
It counterpoints the marbled sky as three
retreating women stop to watch a seal
initiate her pup to swim, before
she lets him suckle on the rocky shore.