Saturday, August 07, 2004

Gloria Mundi

The river path gives many profound teachings in transience.

In early June, campion resemble blousy, leg-o-mutton sleeves. They seem fresh, girlish, even virginal.

Now, in August, they have become little burnished urns

full of tiny, ash-gray seeds.

I find this oddly exhiliarating. The summer, having reached its blaring crescendo of green, prepares for death. It's about time. As things senesce and die they become deeply interesting. Of course first there's the whole going to seed thing. August is one big late-term pregnancy.

Consider, as a thematically appropriate example, milkweed.

From a fuzzy morula of pale green nubbins

spring stalked, rosy buds

which open, one by one,

to form a hemispheric cluster of intricate, pink, star-like blossoms

each elaborate and complex;

each stalk elongates, sagging with its heavy, blanching flower,

as the whole flowerhead attenuates and wilts

shrivels and browns

and dies -- as a fresh green pod emerges from its base

and burgeons

and bulges

and splits -- its bright, tufted, seeds taking to the air --

leaving behind a graceful, gray shell, and emptiness --

how grateful I am to witness all this.

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