Magnolia Tour 2012: Everyday Magic, Day 518

Every year, they explode open too fast only to be killed by some midnight frost that comes in mid March. Most years, I tell myself I will stop whatever I’m doing and walk among us, marveling at their color, shape, scent while there’s still time, but then the time evaporates, and I only find pools of fallen petals, browned at the edges.

Not this year, however. Thanks to a non-winter winter and a shockingly early spring (I mean, some redbuds are coming out already!), the magnolia trees are a blaze of pink and white, daintily unfurling all over time. So I took my camera and my feet and headed out yesterday through East Lawrence.

The tulip magnolia as well as others obviously aren’t, or at least weren’t, so suited for Kansas extremes, but I still fell in love with them when I first discovered this extraordinary blossoming tree. I could go on and on about magnolias, but my poem about them speaks most to how I feel and why I love them so much.

Magnolia Tree in Kansas

This is the tree that breaks

into blossom too early each March,

killing its flowers. This is the tree

that hums anyway in its pool of fallen

petals, pink as moonlight. Not a bouquet

on a stick. Not a lost mammal in the clearing

although it looks like both with its explosions

of rosy boats – illuminated, red-edged.

Not a human thing but closer to what we might be

than the careful cedar or snakeskin sycamore.

It cries. It opens. It submits. In the pinnacle

of its stem and the pits of its fruitless fruit,

it knows how a song can break the singer.

In the brass of its wind, it sings anyway.

Tree of all breaking. Tree of all upsidedown.

Tree that hurts in its bones and doesn’t care.

Tree of the first exhalation

landing and swaying, perfume and death,

all arms and no legs. Tree that never

learns to hold back.
















What Is This Life For?: Everyday Magic, Day 401

The first morning after the killing heat ends,

after you’ve gotten through what you didn’t think you could endure,

after the pear tree dies, the long field fades into the sun,

it changes. The cool air brightens the blue of the sky.

The trembling Osage Orange tree shines. The new surge

of fall shakes shadow and sunlight together on the concrete drive.

There is no place to yearn for, no necessary escape or long nap

in a dark room. There’s only the early monarch, wavering

on the yellowed sunflower stalk, the old crickets in the woods,

the ready wind across your face, saying, welcome back.

This is what you aim your heart toward, this return of ground

and sky, the homecoming of the broken and breaking, the arrival

of another season in which whatever you live for turns

and faces you with open arms.

Night Fields of Snow: Everyday Magic, Day 192

Last night, driving in the country to a friend’s house, I was dazzled by the wide fields of snow all directions, the open palm of the prairie brighter than usual in the dark. Although the snow is melting today and will surely be gone by Saturday when the temperature should approach the 50s, my friend died this week, our state government is about to wreck havoc with my husband’s take-home pay, the arts funding that helps support me and many friends is in dire straits, and close pals are suffering great losses lately, there’s something to be said for the night air, the wide fields, and the beauty of snow.

I especially love that sense of being surrounded by the changing dazzle of what comes when we’re not always looking, like now as I write this, the chickadee stretching her wings on the railing, and then she’s gone. Snow, people, politics and the like come and go, but it’s what we notice and how we treat each other that endure, that make the biggest difference.

The Return of the Birds: Everyday Magic, Day 137

Lately, I’ve noticed the cats high-speeding it to the window to stare out with great joy and hunger, and just beyond them, the bare branches holding a few returning chickadees and other manner of small fluffy bundles. The bird seed is starting to go down faster each day, and I know that soon, when the temperatures really drop, the deer will return to lick the ground around the feeder, the squirrels will do amazing acrobatic feats to get their share, and the bossy bluejays will scare away the smaller birds. I also know the vibrant red and blue will return — the cardinals and bluebirds, both of which have come to mean more and more to me over time. Each flash of color ignites little pools of joy in me, and for that, I’m grateful.

Winterizing Myself: Everyday Magic, Day 136

I found the ultimate zebra-print pajamas at Goodwill, completing my safari winterization outfit, and moreover, allowing me to mix stripes with spots. Given how the first cold nights are moseying on in, interspersed with occasional bouts of 50s temperatured afternoons, it makes sense to mix mammals. Last night, on my way to a wonderful poetry and essay reading with Kevin Rabas (poetry, and really fabulous stuff — check out his award-winning book Lisa’s Flying Electric Piano) and Cheryl Unruh (essays — new book, Flyover People: Life on the Ground in a Rectangular State), I felt that first blast and tweak of deep cold. It was the kind of cold buy cialis with dapoxetine that Cheryl spoke to so well in one of her essays, explaining how it finds every part of us, sneaking up pant legs, and between coat and hat on the back of our necks. Having come through the most slow-motion fall I’ve ever experienced (some of the trees downtown STILL have green leaves, not feathered with Christmas lights), it’s a relief to land in these first throes of winter, knowing what will come next but not how or when it will come. Meanwhile, I have my zebra and leopard flannel and fleece, and all is well in this house.