Thursday, October 25, 2012

Peacock jewels


On cue, in autumn, the Abyssinian gladiolus opened. Some of the plants bloomed early, in late summer, so this is a nice present.

Abyssinia. Ethiopia. Both beautiful words. A pocket of eastern Africa. Imagine sheets of these growing wild on the hillsides, smelling like orchards of gardenias (or perhaps gardenias smell like hillsides of Abyssinian gladiolus...).

Acidanthera murielae. Peacock flower, Abyssinian gladiolus. Grown from corms, planted about three
inches deep. Full sun.

In the back of Mrs Reeler's algebra class, when I was about 15,  I sat and wrote

The rain on the leaves
pours them down
and with it pours spring.

My dreams are peacock jewels
in the classroom.

I failed algebra.

Six years later I walked into a bank on Adderley Street in Cape Town with a friend who had an American check to cash. The bank teller computed the exchange rate for South African rands and before her calculator had finished its job, out of my mouth came the conversion. I had meant it as a joke. But it was correct to the last, minute, decimal point. She held up her calculator to show me.

I always wondered about that.
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