I've had one of those little life incidences that has given me time to think of my own mortality and should it be sooner than later, I find myself wanting to remember the small things about my world. The love of friends and family, both close and flung over this pale blue dot we call home. I want to remember summer flowers, the smell of rain, the late afternoon sun shining through a shower dividing its light into the seven colors of the rainbow - red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. The impatient buzzing of my sole hummingbird resident as she waits for me to stop dead heading flowers too close to the feeder for comfort. The unbridled joy of robins, cardinals, catbirds, sparrows and finches as they dip their heads into the cool water of the birdbath, shaking it down to the tips of their tails, feathers shuttering as they take their daily baths. My sleeping cats on the screen porch chairs, soaking in the warmth of a summer morning.
But if summer has a talisman for me, it's my hibiscus flowers, all six bushes of them, bearing their enormous flowers like sentinals standing watch over the garden I've cultivated for nearly 20 years. Every now and then, I take a break from my novel and write something short - a poem or short story - something to cleanse my mind of character details that I feel some impulse to change when I probably should leave well enough alone. They inspire me every day of summer from their first blooms until their last in the waning heat of summer that somehow manages to hold on until the middle of October some years.
I hope you enjoy this poem I wrote for them and for myself. There is comfort in living things that have no voice you can hear, only feel inside. I've needed some of that lately, and they've been here to give that to me. For that and for them, I am eternally grateful.
I look outside my window early each morning
for the first glimpse of her.
She is there, beautiful in her pink and red raiment,
her petals flung wide open to all comers who want to see her,
sparing nothing, giving everything she has for the one day she will live.
Her face toward the warming sun, raised high and higher as
its heat intensifies to light her outward beauty and that she holds within.
She contemplates nothing put her own purpose.
Her goal is living for the day, providing nectar and
pollen to others that depend upon her pale pink siren
call to lure them into her depths so some place she will
never be on earth can move forward another day.
I gaze at her in awe and contemplate the mystery of her life.
Jesus knew her secret. He understood her purpose.
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not,
neither do they spin: yet I say unto you, that even Solomon
in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
He was not. Nor am I. Most things pale in comparison to her perfection.
She is blissfully unaware of her beauty, nor the short span of day
that is the sum total of her life. There isn’t a moment to worry about those things.
Her face following the sweltering sun, she breathes in its heat
and glories in its sweet unseen colors until it sets and with it so does she.
I clip what is left of her now closed floral remains as dusk settles in,
pressing the velvet softness of her waning petals against my cheek,
then lying her softly into a vessel not remotely worthy enough
for one who gave so much for only a moment. She has come
and gone. Yet, I feel her life’s ending coursing through my own being,
bringing a measure of comfort to the worries of my soul.
Live well and fully in every way and follow the light through its glorious
day. This darkening ends not its sway but stays within your heart always.
There is a beginning and an ending, and none of what we do is bending it
to that we wish to see unending.
Put down your burdens now and pray. Tomorrow is another day,
but remember not its promise stay, for time from time will slip away
into the universe of stars, for nothing here is ever ours. Still,
do not be afraid to sleep, the infinite is still and deep, its beauty,
secret until we find its center within our given time.
For one small moment, my heart is at peace and the anxieties
of the day seem unimportant as the moon rises with its soft pale
glow to light the blossoms and night creatures neither she nor I will see
Another morning will begin anew, and as her sister before her,
she will spread her petals wide to the sun, blushing pink as her face
glows in its light and with joy impart the reveling of her chance to shine
in the one fleeting day that marks her time.
Consider the lilies of the field.