Awaiting Mattie's arrival.
10 July 2006, 7:54 PM
To the right of the porch,
a young magnolia- the southern variety-
no pink saucer bullshit.
Don't get me wrong, the saucers are beautiful.
But the great southern magnolia has no equal.
So many graceful branches merging
to a trunk of such girth
it must have evolved from multiple seedlings.
Leaves of young, matte green, healthy
and open to the sun. I wonder how I ever
preferred the watered-down saucer bullshit
to this lovely bit of southern hospitality,
like an afternoon spent on a porch-swing
twenty years ago with my grandparents
and a tall glass of iced tea on a hellish,
South Texas Sunday afternoon.
To the left and slightly back- I cannot see
its fullness- only a few aged branches
peaking out around the porch. An older specimen
I cannot call stately.
I remember how I came to prefer bullshit-prissy
saucer magnolias to a less refined variety.
Leaves are curled and waxy; darker, muted
green in places, yellow in others
with all the markings of a ripe, brown banana.
Foliage less dense, unarguably less attractive.
Halts the mind, mid-critique:
How easily one abandons
a thing no longer beautiful as it once was,
though still alive,
which in proper time gave joy of a kind;
in proper time would bring joy of another
if one could be found to receive the gift,
not unlike my grandmother
a decade ago, standing outside on the driveway
in a cotton dress waving, watching us disappear
around the corner. She stood there without fail
beside my blue coverall-clad granddad in the South
Texas heat. They never once considered
going inside before their granddaughter
was out of sight.
She is no less lovelynow,
sitting in her rocking chair, alone
except for the cats, hair discolored,
wits less poignant, a little worse for wear
after decades spent in that damned heat.
I steal another glance at the aged magnolia
as I wonder when last I saw my grandmother,
bearing no less love in her growing frailty,
standing in the sun, waving goodbye to me.