Our Jacaranda

In April seed pods the size of black plums dangled from the bare branches of the jacaranda we had just planted in the heart of our garden. Would they drop eventually, we wondered? These dark ornaments were … well, ugly to our eyes. We worried too that — even though we’d purposely chosen a sapling with multiple trunks to create the effect of a copse instead of a lone tree – it might split. But what could we do now? Just trust in the nurseryman’s confidence in a tree’s capacity to heal itself and twice a week nurse it with buckets full of water, as precious in this drought as wine.

All spring we watched like new parents as lengthening days untied the knots of green nubs that formed on the jacaranda’s branches and unfurled feathery fronds. The seed pods hung there still, dusty black spades amidst the green froth. Would they ever drop? Should I prune them? But I don’t want to weed, rake, and trim nature right out of the garden.  Sometimes when we try to beautify a landscape, we expunge wild processes we don’t understand. If I cut off the seed pods, would I cut off some vital service to the tree? A dozen websites and gardening books ignored my question but cautioned me not to expect blooms this first year. What cause for rejoicing then, like a baby’s first steps, when I noticed tiny buds in June. As if the jacaranda knew the myth of flowers blossoming on a magical fern deep in the Polish forest, a purple cloud bloomed to crown our garden. Yet even this halo could not hide the devil’s paws clutching last year’s dead limbs. Would they ever drop?

It is November now. With carapaces hard as glass, the pods hang there still, but I notice they have opened – just barely opened like a rotten oyster loathe to let go its pearls. The tree-given desire for life even in such tiny pips as a jacaranda’s seeds is enough to pry open the possessive lover’s door. The pods may never drop, but it seems the seeds have found their way to earth and (we may hope) rebirth.

The River That Mines the Silence of Stone

Image courtesy of Sarojani Rohan

 

After the light

beams into the inner chamber

 

on the shortest day,

after the souls of the dead have departed,

 

silence fills the hollow space

like the beat of the drum just did.

 

The underland will feed it

like a candle perpetually snuffed,

 

scent of melted wax and burnt wick

in the dark.

 

Above, nights pass

and days come

 

in the temple of time

that makes equals of us all.

 

The earth blooms into spring,

flowers and fruits through summer,

 

and releases once more into fall.

On that first winter day,

 

when the priestess returns

before dawn,

 

lint and tinder in her pouch,

but guided by memory and touch,

 

this is what she hears:

the silence of stone.

 

No words, no message,

just the time-nourished silence.

 

Rebirth is the gift of the deep,

to return as servant once more –

 

lover and light-bearer,

priestess and poet reborn.

 

Title from Rilke’s Book of Hours, I,16

 

At Newgrange August 2019