text and haiku by Kristen Lindquist

My grandmother’s house boasted a huge rhododendron bush out front. When its big purple blooms opened each spring, she’d clip a few, bring them inside, and float them in a glass bowl. It struck me as very exotic presented this way (I had a fairly provincial childhood), so I decided then that it was my favorite flower. I thought that only I fully appreciated the patch of soft brown speckles hidden inside each flower, because most people don’t look that closely, and purple was (and still is) my favorite color.

When we bought our house seven years ago, one of the first things I did was plant a rhododendron bush–something I’d been wishing for since my grandmother died 20 years before. Each spring I glory in the days when it’s flowering. This lush rainy weekend seems to have been the trigger, as suddenly the bush is in full bloom. I clipped one of the flowers wet with rain. Now it floats in a blue-patterned Chinese bowl. It struck me tonight that those tiny brown spots look just like the freckling on the throat of a veery, a locally common thrush with a truly exotic voice.

Bold purple petals
hide a patch of soft freckles
like a veery’s throat.