Snow-in-Summer (an ode)

Low-lying, silver-leaved,
tumbled with tiny blossoms,
it does not clamor for attention
among its showy cousins
the coreopsis, delphinium,
the pink and purple stalks
of digitalis. I saw it
first on the nursery shelves,
later spilling over a rock wall
along Giddings and knew
it belonged
in my garden.
A perennial promise of coolness,
in an island border.

Summer again,
century’s end.
Why should anyone die
in the heat of St. Louis
without a fan,
without air, locked inside
with the temperature rising?
If there could only be
solace, coolness, ice,
magic on the tongue.
If we could divide
seedlings, encourage
propagation, leaf-
cuttings, and rooting medium
for every household.

Healer of wounds,
balm for sore eyes
in our inner cities,
though not suitable at all
for cut flowers.
Star-shaped blooms
of inspiration, what if you
brought back the ancient rite
of sitting down
to supper—all day
people caught in the office air,
and then the escape to the garden’s
redolent green,
the weeding, the plump handfuls
of vegetables.

Snow-in-summer, smallest
wave of delicate flowering.
You follow the crocus,
the delicious hyacinth, paper white
narcissus, tulips of every color.
After sea thrift, after the cold
has melted in patches:
your silver foliage, low
along the ground,
and flowers without fragrance,
return triumphant.