Thursday, May 13, 2010

Poetry and Lilacs

On Sunday, April 18, I gave a poetry reading at the Feast of Poets in Silverton Oregon at the Silver Falls Vineyard with Donna Prinzmetal, Colette Tennant, Mary Szybist, and her husband Jake.

After a stimulating two days at the Oregon State Poetry Association in Eugene, I welcomed the pastoral scenery as I drove deeper into the wine country. Sheep grazed on the hillsides, nanohana (rapeflowers) bloomed in profusion, and the sun shone on a perfect spring day. I arrived early and took advantage of the wine tasting, an Oregon pinot noir, to get in the spirit of the afternoon. I was the first reader and began my reading by sounding a Buddhist prayer bell to center the audience. Then I read spring haiku from my book Grinding my ink, followed by selections from my other five collections. Next to the podium was a vase three feet high, brimming over with lilacs. The scent was intoxicating—memories of Nana's lilac bush, teenage love, and summers that seemed timeless. One of the haiku I read was:

catalpa blossoms—
falling in love with
the girl I once was

I was tempted to change 'catalpa blossoms' to 'lilacs'.

At the end of the reading I asked the organizer if I could have one branch to bring home. "Oh, I trimmed off the tops of my tree. It was getting too big. You can have all of them," she said and bundled the lilacs  up and put them in my trunk. The two-hour ride to Portland was delicious.

When I arrived home I said to John, "Look, honey, I caught the bouquet!" I arranged the lilacs in six bouquets. They perfumed our house for a week.

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