Voyages from I to Thou.

Location: Skellig Michel, Ireland

Friday, December 10, 2004

Azaleas (Peter Meinke)

In the morning, in December
they lean like flares over our brick pathway,
vessels of fragrant energy,
their bright explosions enclosed by the frailest membrane:
they tremble with their holy repressions.
We watch; we tremble, too. We learn.
They thrive on acid, these azaleas; they burn
in darkness, loving the shadows of old oaks
whose broken leaves flutter down to feed
their flowering fantasies.
For surely azaleas are not real, they grow
in some deep wilderness of soul, some known
ideal of vulnerability made palpable,
whose thin petals float dying to the ground
even as we walk by, without touching.
Our very presence seems to kill.
We know more than we can say: we live
in waves of feelings and awareness
where images unfold and grow
along the leafwork of our nerves and veins;
and when one morning late in March
we walk out on our porch and see
the white azaleas open to the air
we recognize them from our dreams
as every cell projects our affirmation.
O Pride of Mobile, Maiden Blush,
Prince of Orange, President Clay:
the names are humorous examples
of human hubris—O Glory of Sunninghilll
And yet they’re touching, too: my salmon
colored Duc de Rohan’s fragile aristocracy
doomed like his forebears to lose his head;
your Elegans, that early bloomer,
whose petals lie like butterflies on our walk
or pastel Kleenex thickly strewn
in some orgy of melancholy weeping ...
Dwarves and Giants, Pinkshell, Flame—
O my dear, so many azaleas are dying!
We must have a party! Here! This afternoon!


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