Daughters Never Grown (Florida. Spring 2007.)

There are only plants today. The mosquitoes were blown away early. Love bugs hold each other in hiding. Dragonflies think themselves into sticks. Even the ants are gone. A lone chameleon bobs on the mango tree, tapping out a prophecy in morse code.

The birds of paradise are fluttering, flapping furiously to keep watch. Their shocking reds and oranges fly like flares heralding the coming of the wind. The grass is shivering, even though it is already May. Frangipani leaves begin to poke their heads out of stiff branches. They are still not convinced the time has come. They expected to be welcomed with showers and lightning — a thunderous cry to expose themselves. But they know they have been waiting too long. The angel’s trumpets have been calling, sending long fluted noted which start green and fresh and explode in screeching upside-down pink. The sounds coax the palms to dance, a primitive hallucination of a trance, a dance to tempt the clouds. Australian pines cry out as they sway, painfully praising the wind that moves them. The bougainvilleas are silent.

The mother mango listens and alone is still. She is weighted by the pregnancy of dozens of offspring, ready to feed. Her tiny flowers quiver and the beat of the shaman lizard plays on. Clouds move more quickly, as if gathering round to hear. The wind becomes more forceful, swaying the mangoes lasciviously. The angel’s trumpets begin to wail; the frangipanis gawk unashamed; the palms quicken to a frenzied dance; birds of paradise hold tightly to their stalks; Australian pines scream “halleluiahs” to the wind.

And just as suddenly it ends. A small patch of silent azure breaks over the tree, baptizing and cooling her. The chameleon hugs the trunk, exhausted by the omens. And slowly, as if gravity is lazy, thousands of white mango flowers drift to the ground. Floating like snow, winking like stars, swirling like Sufis. Hundreds of daughters never grown. Millions of mouths never fed.

Tamarind Trees (Thailand. Spring 2009.)

The tamarind trees lie in pieces outside my windows, broken by a sense of caution. Their fruit snake away from the branches ashamed and the leaves shrivel brown in the sun’s stare. The blue-crested lizards search for their limbs, but they are now bodies alone. From the checkered balcony even the ants shake their heads, knowing the sun has gone mad. The tendrils of passion vine convulse in the wind, praying for a mango sky. Yellowsweet and orangewet. Only then can the leaves stretch their fingers. Only then can the ants lift their loads. Only then can the tamarinds rest their heads.