Thursday, May 26, 2011

`Scented With Days to Come'

Last week, one of the kindergarten teachers filled a wide-mouthed stoneware pitcher with bluebells and set it on the counter in the office. The color of the bottom half of the pitcher, a glossy Delft blue, almost matches the color of the flowers. “Nice thing about bluebells,’” she said, “they stay pretty even when they’re dead.” No one spoke the obvious corollary aloud, but she was right: The bluebells, enough to fill a peck basket, are drooping but the color remains vivid.

This week she brought in a vase of lilac sprigs from her yard. The blossoms are pale violet, the leaves heart-shaped, and the fragrance fills the room. “My favorite smell,” the teacher said. It reminded me of walks through the George Landis Arboretum in Esperance (“Hope”), N.Y., the only place I’ve ever seen a strawberry moon. You smelled the lilacs from half a mile before you saw the first flower. Once they reminded me of Whitman; now, Janet Lewis’ “Girl Help” (The Selected Poems of Janet Lewis, 2000):

“Mild and slow and young,
She moves about the room,
And stirs the summer dust
With her wide broom.
In the warm, lofted air,
Soft lips together pressed,
Soft wispy hair,
She stops to rest,
And stops to breathe,
Amid the summer hum,
The great white lilac bloom
Scented with days to come.”

No comments: