The Focus on Where I Am

When I walk outside in my Arizona yard I see the palo verde trees.

I grew up in Michigan where trees are real trees.  You probably know what I mean: oak, maple, birch, and pine trees.  They all have strong, symmetrical shapes–specific enough to be cookie cutters.

But here in the southwest, we have the palo verde, sort of a weed on steroids. This is a particularly bedraggled specimen. The outer branches and leaves of the tree are weed-like, fragile, with a few thin limbs over-long and droopy.  Nobody would want to make a cookie cutter out of this palo verde, and if they did, nobody would recognize it.

Like the scorpion and the rattlesnake, the palo verde is one of God’s creations.   This tree has been on my mind since I first moved to Arizona five years ago.



In this perfectly off-center palo verde tree

the digressions fall away.

Christ’s fourth avatar sleeps in a karated gold pagoda.

The pilgrims search for dust with a metallic taste.

A hummingbird’s snoop into yellow bells

transmutes into the clapper of the so-called miracles.

Well.  Miracles or mysterious occurrences,

maybe misreadings.

From this focus, the architecture is the tree,

a holy manger

nesting the saguaro cacti,

offering Eucharist for burros and jackrabbits,

sanctuary for the songbirds.

In my confusion, I read the wrong miracles.

God’s toolbelt begets stained glass

mirrors of beatitude, where incense

smokes through silver filigreed sieves,

fogging the view of the palo verde,

the Ark of the holy secrets.

Thank God toolbelts unbuckle, their great weight

tumbling down to the ground

from which the palo verde grows.

(published in Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Vol 3, Iss 2)

The “yellow bells” are the spring blossoms, which allow the palo verdes to compete with the fall colors of Michigan.  And while they will never be my favorite tree, their delicate fronds and flowers create a lively lace against the sky.

May at the Mayo Clinic, Phoenix Campus

May at the Mayo Clinic, Phoenix Campus


Filed under Creative Nonfiction, Poetry

20 responses to “The Focus on Where I Am

  1. Wow – I love this!

  2. Lovely poem! It’s so nice to pair it with other observations.

  3. Barry and I once talked about moving to Arizona. He had a job offer. We decided to stay in Georgia. I have an aversion to large spiders and I’d have to learn how to garden out there. I know what to do here in Georgia, I wouldn’t have a clue what to plant out there. I’d be lost in so many ways.

    • lucewriter

      Jill, gardening out here is very strange. It’s not my cup of tea, but there is some sparse beauty. The Desert Botanical Gardens teaches classes in gardening in the desert which sound interesting but I’ve never taken.

  4. I like your poetry, but the expression “weed on steroids” made me smile ear to ear!

  5. I love this – and happen to love messy, lopsided trees – they have so much more personality than perfectly symmetrical spruces, etc. (Tho ya can’t quite top the magnificence of an ancient oak!) Really love the line: “In my confusion, I read the wrong miracles.” Just beautiful.

  6. It’s quite beautiful where you live.. love that poem.. Lovely read this evening 🙂

    • lucewriter

      It’s such a different look than what I grew up with, but you’re right it’s beautiful and somewhat simple, which can be wonderful. Thank you so much, Lynne!

  7. it struck me how personally we respond to poetry as the first line grabbed my attention and wouldn’t let go – perfectly off center. I often feel off center but now I’m going to envision that I am perfectly so!

    • lucewriter

      I love that you took the care that you did in reading that line. It is so true about our personal responses to poetry. That’s what I love the most about it!

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  10. Wow! That poem is gorgeous. I absolutely love this part:

    From this focus, the architecture is the tree,

    a holy manger

    nesting the saguaro cacti,

    offering Eucharist for burros and jackrabbits,

    sanctuary for the songbirds.

    Funny how sometimes the “not so beautiful” inspires the tenderest poetry–wabi sabi writing, I call it. Seeing the holy in the lowly. You should re-blog this sometime–wonderful.

    • lucewriter

      Deborah, thank you so much for your sensitive reading of my poem. About the re-blogging, you should also re-blog your piece about how you re-fell in love with your husband as it’s one of those pieces it’s hard to get out of your mind after you read it.

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