in honor of Ellen Douglass Leyburn
I’d like to go out in a blaze of glory
Like these falling leaves.
The chemistry of their dying
Strips off masking green,
Reveals true colors,
So they now flame forth—
Orange, yellow scarlet—
Before they crumple—brittle, brown.
As in blue gown at after-lecture party,
She glowed, all dross refined,
Fine facial bones just visible
Through translucent skin,
Lavishing on us the intensity
Of eyes—blue jewels—lit
By fire about to be snuffed out.
Crepe myrtles burst into bloom—
In vivid red and purple, sunset pink,
And splashes of white.
They dominate the landscape.
Our Southern aunts instructed us
That it is rude, unladylike,
To put ourselves forward
With such dramatic flair.
We should, instead,
Seek to be accommodating, pleasant,
To fade into the background.
What rebellious streak,
Hidden even from themselves,
Led these proper matrons to supervise
The planting of crepe myrtles
That line our quiet streets
And clamor boisterously for our attention?