Ode to Hydrangea

war and disorder washed me up
on the riverside in Shu

a good place to recuperate
from my long travel sickness
—Du Fu, from Sent to Be Written on the Wall of My Thatched Cottage

Outside my front window, the hydrangea
Bloom violet on their thrones of silver-green:
Not yet tired of the heat, the march of days.
They live a forgetful youth.
Above them, the pines, above the pines
Domes of cloud, then blue, then cloud.
Trunks of quivering torso,
Dancing under thornèd crowns.

All this my evening walks reveal, this and
The accumulations of hidden lives:
Trampled-on lawns, battered shed-doors, oblivious 
Children, ignorant of time, learning and unlearning
Eternally the rules of play. Ignorant of me,
My purple-bloomed heart, my rose-steps,
My aching painted hand.
A year of malady, spikes and caterpillars,
And locked doors to locked rooms,
And inside the rooms, worn rocking chairs,
And views of hydrangea.


image: Joaquín Sorolla, Rooftop with Flowers