(On Coming to Oakland, California in April)

Heavy fuchsia, heavy plums, pink camellias blooming
and the blossoming apple trees. Air
full of suspense, as I arrived, this overwhelming
fragrance: rosemary, poppies, and the bursting
gardens of nasturtium, echinacea, phlox, a myriad of
flowers I don’t know (might as well be honest on arrival).
What are we waiting for? Along the walk to the village
women weed and tend, and smile as the skateboarders
go—Elijah, Yvonne—whizzing way past me, to lunch
in the patio garden under thick vines and a bubbling frieze:
a stone girl, in classic draperies, pouring from her gourd
into the little pool while the bees move
sedately in our thick air, brightness opening.
We sun, intent over Greek salad, quesadillas,
root beer, tea. Sweet silences, but what is this weight?
What is waiting in the western heat? Beyond bright boughs,
gliding skies, camellias blooming slowly, what is
passing now? What imminent rising
in this coastal town on the bay? Passover hasn’t even
come, and the image of an Easter lamb is far away.

Madeline Tiger


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