The Catalpa

The catalpa’s white week is ending there
in its corner of my yard. It has its arms full
of its own flowering now, but the least air
spills off a petal and a breeze lets fall
whole coronations. There is not much more
of what this is. Is every gladness quick?
That tree’s a nuisance, really. Long before
the summer’s out, its beans, long as a stick,
will start to shed. And every year one limb
cracks without falling off and hangs there dead
till I get up and risk my neck to trim
what it knows how to lose but not to shed.
I keep it only for this one white pass.
The end of June’s its garden; July, its Fall;
all else, the world remembering what it was
in the seven days of its visible miracle.

What should I keep if averages were all?

John Ciardi, “The Catalpa” from This Strangest Everything (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1966). Used with the permission of the Ciardi Family Publishing Trust.
Source: The Collected Poems of John Ciardi (University of Arkansas Press, 1997)
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