Purple madness rioting along the roadside...

Image source

Field Guide

No one I ask knows the name of the flower
we pulled the car to the side of the road to pick
and that I point to dangling purple from my lapel.

I am passing through the needle of spring
in North Carolina, as ignorant of the flowers of the south
as the woman at the barbecue stand who laughs
and the man who gives me a look as he pumps the gas

and everyone else I ask on the way to the airport
to return to where this purple madness is not seen
blazing against the sober pines and rioting along the roadside.

On the plane, the stewardess is afraid she cannot answer
my question, now insistent with the fear that I will leave
the province of this flower without its sound in my ear.

Then, as if he were giving me the time of day, a passenger
looks up from his magazine and says wisteria.

- Billy Collins in Questions about Angels


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  1. Wisteria climbs orver the granite block face and wrought iron arbor of one the oldest houses in Lowell. The house was once the parsonage for St. Anne's Episcopal Church -the oldest church in Lowell. I remember walking by this house as a child and feeling overwhelmed by the mysterious beauty of flower, knowing that the blossom was rare, not having seen it anywhere else...a mystery of Spring. Thank you for this Billy Collins tug at the heart and mind, Fr. Austin.

  2. Thank you, Susan, for magnifying the beauty of Collins' words!


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