01 January 1970

Garden Musings: Poems Of Trees, Birds And Rain

Nature and gardening serve as the poet’s muses as she contemplates life, each poem unraveling new facets of consciousness.

The singing Frangipani
The singing Frangipani Getty Images

Tree of our waking dreams

on a sun-drenched California morning, I ask
if there is a spectacular tree that I may grow in my yard
I could grow the chokecherry tree 
or the crab apple tree with magenta flowers Claudio tells me
I stare at the purple sky
a goldfinch sings in the tallest palm
the song echoes in my mind sparking long-ago sights
Claudio's left-behind coastal Mexican village glimmering in his face
the answer comes to me abruptly
I will grow the frangipani tree of my Indian girlhood I say
fragrant white buds burst into golden flowers in my head
in your village you call it the plumeria tree  don’t you  i ask
Claudio nods
plumeria flowers are luminescent like the moon and far prettier than roses
their scent sweeter than pineapple he says
we smile in unison

the song of the goldfinch surges the air to circle the tree of our waking dreams

A different outcome

 in the morning i filled the bird feeder with seeds
the bowl with water and set the two under the magnolia because

birds big and small love the flower-laden magnolia
its fragrant blooms heady like pink champagne
i went about my day imagining birds flitting about the magnolia 
nibbling from the feeder   drinking from the bowl
the summer day ran long
the sun burning wild late into the evening and
when I stepped outdoors to watch the coral sunset 
what did I see

the seeds and water lay untouched under the magnolia
not a fledging had stopped by for a bite or sip
why o why did the birds pass up on my seeds and water
disregard my goodwill

receding sunbeams cast shadows on my bewildered hands 
I looked up at the remains of the day
all at once, I knew
it was time 

I stopped seeking different outcomes   
accepted truths for what they are

it was time indeed that I became
cognizant of the heartache of living

Ruby-throated hummingbird

It’s not even autumn
and already this morning

i spotted a hummingbird
now who could
have ever thought
a hummingbird would fly in so early in the year 

dainty delicate dreamlike
it somersaulted in mid-air 
its wings the colors of a perky rainbow 
its throat a crimson rose

it flew right past my face 
I cried out loud
ruby-throated hummingbird!
it flew forward and backward before
settling on a petunia to

sip nectar
I called out to Ella to rush outside so

she too may 
see the hummingbird 

it’s a symbol of love and fortune
a spirit messenger for the brave Ella said
how very peculiar it was I thought
love and fortune unfailingly favor the brave
“conscious dreaming”
a cloud rolls over my garden
it is a cumulus cloud
a dry cloud
like a blob of cotton
I invoke the spirit of the natives
on whose land I stand and pray for rain
so the creek by the lagoon may run deep and blue
so fallen acorns may sprout new oaks
the cloud extends into the sky and glides away
faraway willows and pines sway in my mind
quails pecking at their trunks
I conjure the wetland of yore
if only the wetland would return and drive the drought away
what might I do to bring the wetland back
a prayer alone can hardly help but
saving trees and nurturing forests

can holler rain in
rain = wetland = green valleys = thriving  earth
I close my eyes
somewhere it is raining loud

frogs are croaking there and birds croon
rhapsodic deer hoofing across the lagoon
wild geese honking in the marshes
wetland throbbing to return 

a raindrop splashes upon my cheek
imperceptible  weightless  airy
I can’t touch it but somewhere it’s pouring louder still
I open my eyes

it’s raining in my conscious dreams where
clouds are thick  dense and heavy with hope

(Simrita Dhir is a California based academic and novelist. She is the author of the critically acclaimed novel The Rainbow Acres)