Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Lilacs of the Palouse

One of the things that delighted me the most about the Palouse in Eastern Washington was the lilacs. Their spring is later than ours and the lilacs were in full bloom. I'm not talking about the kind of small lilac trees we have here. These were immense old trees. They seemed to be in every yard with hundreds and hundreds of small blooms, most white or pale purple, a few of the deep purple. They weren't just in tended yards, but in vacant lots, in farm fields, along the roadside. Some were two and three stories high. The fragrance was glorious and the abundance amazing. 

My father and I shared a love of lilacs. Here's a poem I wrote years ago about that. 

April 2007

Light dappled my hands.
The shears held firmly, I stretched and stretched,
grasping the branch by a thin patch of leaves,
pulling it towards my heart.

A diagonal cut. Then another. And another.

The perfume rose in a single wave to greet me,
Whispering of spring,
of awkward romance, of my first cologne.

Moving towards the kitchen,
I buried my nose in the deep amethyst blooms. 

The vase, striped green on the diagonal, held waiting water.
No fancy arrangement, just branch ends immersed.

I turned then to feed the orange cat,
its whiskers tickling my ankle in anticipation.
One scoop. Then another. And another.

When I turned back, my father, five years dead, stood before me.
I smiled.

The lilac scent he loved so much filled the room
and my heart stretched and stretched,
in greeting, in memory.

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