My Mimosa in Summer

mimosa flowers against blue sky

Grounded in this tree.

Growing up my grandmother's mimosa was
always there. A presence I had no need to note or
question, as it is with grandmothers.

When that tree died I don't know —
I moved on, moved away, and never
missed it, never saw
just when it went, never needed to
it is in me forever.

I do know when its surrogates surfaced.
A view of mimosa, sky, and cloud,
seen as my face lifted from my perch on
the back steps of a
sorority house,
cleared from my mind exams, papers,
lectures, deadlines.

Years later the drive from my mountaintop home
to a valley town led me past four
mimosas —
front-door or front-yard trees, as
my grandmother's was.

The July blossoms notified me,
me too wrapped in myself to recognize
the long-fingered palms or
the dark, rattling pods
in other seasons.

I gazed long as I drove through wide valley vistas
that allowed me to keep on the road, thank God.
I fondled my memories, but
never stopped to look closer.

In a later year, living in this valley town,
I walked beneath a mimosa,
beside a gravel drive
off Walnut Street,

inhaled the fragrance like pina colada,
picked up a fallen flower,
carried it home,
set it in the cup of a shell
I keep for the stemless blooms
my granddaughters pick for me.

Now I gaze from my own balcony to
my own mimosa,
a fountain — each tiny leaf a drop on
spray not ready to fall,
lying on air, facing sunrise,
filled with light and glowing
yellow through the green.

Pink froths ride the green waves.
Sunlight makes flames of them.

This tree had its trials.
Beginning as an accident
discovered one Spring
in the fence,
sprouting within the double wall,
bending boards to get out,

The next year, woody shoots
tall as me,
blocking the narrow path to
the back gate,
green feathery brushing my face.

One day I came and found it
John must have cut it and
carried it off
with the brush.

The stump died.
But stems came back,
(John did not.)
making two boles,
pushing open a wider fence gap.

I braided the slender new branches
toward the fence
so I could walk by.
I watched. I waited.

And this year, looking up from
the nastiness in the compost bin,
looking toward the back gate
for weeding to do,

a flower-strewn path
and above,

I gather fallen spiky fans
from the pavers and
from atop the sweet peas, whose
blooms I ignore,
and lay them atop the scant layer
of currants in the berry basket.

Ignoring the currants in the kitchen, I
slide the two-inch stems into the
ten ceramic spice jars on
the window sill
that already hold tufts of
spider plant babies.

Inhale —
fragrance of thirty flowers.
Taste —
pastel melting tropical on the tongue,

remember running under Grandma's
mimosa, and
never imagining what
would be.